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Even with Kawhi Leonard & Paul George, Clippers crushed by Nuggets

Jan 5, 2023; Denver, Colorado, USA; Denver Nuggets forward Aaron Gordon (50) reacts with guard Jamal Murray (27) and center Nikola Jokic (15) in the first quarter against the Los Angeles Clippers at Ball Arena. Mandatory Credit: Isaiah J. Downing-USA TODAY Sports
Credit: Isaiah J. Downing-USA TODAY Sports

Jamal Murray scored 18 points, Bones Hyland added 16, and the host Denver Nuggets used a big first half to rout the Los Angeles Clippers 122-91 on Thursday night.

Vlatko Cancar had 15 points and 12 rebounds, Aaron Gordon and Zeke Nnaji each scored 13 points, Nikola Jokic finished with 12 points and nine assists, and Michael Porter Jr. added 10 points for Denver.

Norman Powell scored 13 points, Moses Brown had 12 points and 10 rebounds, and Terance Mann also had 12 points for the Clippers, who lost their fourth straight despite having Paul George and Kawhi Leonard in the lineup. George scored three points and Leonard had six and neither played in the second half. No Los Angeles starter scored in double figures.

The Nuggets took control of the game with an early flurry by Murray. After Leonard hit two free throws to make it 10-7, Murray hit a 3-pointer, a 10-foot floater in the lane, another shot from behind the arc, a step-back 16-footer and a pull-up 3-pointer to make it 23-13.

Hyland and Cancar hit 3-pointers to cap off a 12-0 run that gave Denver a 32-13 lead with a minute to go in the first quarter.

The Nuggets went ahead by 23 early in the second quarter on another 3-pointer, this one from Kentavious Caldwell-Pope, before Los Angeles scored four straight to make it 42-23.

But Denver pulled away from there, Caldwell-Pope hitting consecutive 3-pointers and Cancar scoring on a dunk before the Clippers called timeout down 50-23.

The Nuggets kept the pressure on, however. Hyland made three free throws and a pair of 3-pointers around a layup by Bruce Brown to cap a 19-0 run that gave them a 61-23 lead with 3:57 left in the half.

George’s only made basket in the game, a 3-pointer with 14.8 seconds left in the half, made it 66-32 at intermission.

After Los Angeles scored nine points in the first two-plus minutes in the third quarter, Denver called a timeout then went on a 9-0 run to make it 82-41 less than two minutes later.

The Clippers made it 90-55 but the Nuggets ended the third quarter on a 12-4 run to lead by 43 heading to the fourth.

–Field Level Media