The LA Clippers defeated Denver Nuggets, 124-111, securing the second place in the Western Conference, and setting the show with the Dallas Mavericks in the first round of the playoffs.
Regardless of their result in the last seeding game, Doc Rivers and his crew will take on young Luka Doncic and the Mavs.
“They are terrific,” said Rivers following the match once the reporters asked him about Dallas. “They have one of the young stars, they are two-star team, Porzingis is playing great. I look at them, and that is a tough matchup in the first round.”
Yet, the Clippers didn’t want to run away from the Mavs, but went out to win this match and clinch the No.2 seed in the conference. They would come back following Denver’s lead at the halftime and rebuff another push of the Nuggets at the end of the third and the start of the final quarter to post their 48th win of the campaign.
Nuggets were up 58-50 at the half, but the LAC scored 13 straight points shortly after the start of the third. Denver got back into the match at the end of the same, and had a small lead early on in the fourth, but that didn’t last too long.
Clippers went on a 7-0 run, to quickly pull away from the rivals and to routinely close the game.
As usual, Kawhi Leonard and Paul George were in the middle of attention. George had 27 points, four assists, and rebounds each, with three steals and four three-pointers.
Kawhi scored 26 points, and this was his 38th time this season to drop more than 25 buckets in one game. It is the most for one player during the single campaign since the Clippers moved to LA.
Lou Williams delivered 23 of the bench, having seven assists, with 8-for-13 shooting, while Ivica Zubac recorded another double-double with 15 buckets and 12 boards, missing two of his nine shots.
Clippers played once again without Patrick Beverly and Montrezl Harrell, but these two guys are in the bubble and are expected to be in the protocol pretty soon.
On the other side, the Nuggets played with 13 players, and coach Malone wanted to see all of his guys on the floor. Ten of them had double-digit minutes, with Jerami Grant and Nikola Jokic leading the way with 28 each.
The Joker had 17 points, 13 assists, and seven boards, and was 7-for-11 from the field. Meanwhile, Grant was the No.1 offensive weapon of the Nuggets, scoring 25 points of the bench and adding six boards.
“He was in attack mode,” said Malone about Grant. “Jerami’s role is going to be more pronounced as we move into the postseason.”
Michael Malone on Jerami Grant:
“He was in attack mode. Attacking downhill.” pic.twitter.com/hzONatzfjg
— Brandon Ewing (@B_Skip1717) August 13, 2020
The Nuggets will play against Utah Jazz in the first round of the playoffs.
Michael Porter Jr. had 11 points, and five boards, and Jamal Murray and Torey Craig had 10 each.
After the match, Malone spoke about his team’s poor performances on the defensive side of the ball, adding that right now, they are the worst crew in the bubble in that aspect.
“Right now we have the worst defense in the bubble by a mile and we need guys who can guard. Too many guys right now are just matadors. We just get beat way too easy at the point of the ball.”
Up next, the Nuggets play against the NBA champions, the Toronto Raptors this Friday. Toronto also clinched its spot in the East, and they will meet the Brooklyn Nets in the first round of the playoffs.
The Clippers play against Oklahoma City Thunder.
Nikola Velickovic is a sports journalist who loves to write and read on all sports. Nikola contributes both news updates and functions as a sports breaking news writer at WagerBop.