Clippers final score vs Nuggets: Clippers battle 25-point deficit to beat Nuggets 87-85

After two painful first quarters and a half, the Clippers came out of a 25-point deficit to beat the Denver Nuggets 87-85.

Amir Coffey, who built on his strong performance on Sunday, dropped three points to give the Clippers a two-hour lead at 2:30 left. If his position in the rotation wasn’t guaranteed yet, his 18 points, seven assists, five rebounds and four steals tonight should almost solidify him. And Nicolas Batum, after an aggressive defense to deprive Nikola Jokic of the ball and force Facundo Campazzo to shoot a deep three to the other side, made a three on the next offensive possession to give the Clippers a five-point lead that ‘they wouldn’t give up.

The Clippers, after digging a large hole, outscored the Nuggets 53-26 to end the game.

Although the offense took a long time to start, the defense was there from the jump. With 8:50 to go in the first, Jokic threw a wandering pass right in front of Aaron Gordon’s bewildered hands and out of bounds for the Nuggets’ fourth turnover. It was a rare mistake for Jokic over the season, but those types of mistakes seemed like a staple of the Clippers’ game plan tonight as they forced 20 turnovers from the Nuggets tonight.

Capitalizing on those turnover, however, was a different matter altogether. In fact, capitalizing on one of their shots tonight has been a struggle for the Clippers, especially for the first three quarters.

After starting just 5 of 19 in the first ten minutes, the Clippers took advantage of a replacement for Jokic, who orchestrated the Nuggets offense en route to four points, four assists and five rebounds in the first quarter, to cut the deficit to two. The Clippers trailed the Nuggets 18-16, entering the second quarter.

A combination of active defense and Brandon Boston Jr., who scored six points and three rebounds in his first six minutes, kept the Clippers within striking distance despite a few cold shots from the unnamed four starters Coffey.

Throughout the game, the Clippers, despite strong shots, struggled to make baskets. In the first 21 minutes of the game, they only managed to convert 15 of 41 shots. After the first two quarters, the Clippers, who shot just 27.3% from the field and just 7.1% from three, trailed 41-28.

The Nuggets, who ran a quick 11-4 early in the third quarter, were the first to emerge from the offensive crisis. And despite increased urgency from the Clippers, the deficit climbed to 25 points in the third.

Marcus Morris and Coffey, shooting 5 of 13 and 4 of 8 from the field respectively, were the only double-digit players for Los Angeles during the majority of the third. Towards the end, they were joined by Terance Mann, who also contributed ten points. Despite some fouling issues, an 18-3 run reduced the Nuggets’ lead to just ten with three minutes left in the third. Still, the Nuggets’ defense kept the Clippers to just 55 points in the first three quarters, on track for a 73-point game.

The good news? The Clippers’ defense also managed to keep the Nuggets to just 66 points on 40% of shots from the field, including 12% of three. That, along with a quick run in the first 1:12 of the fourth quarter that reduced the deficit to just four, raised some hope for anxious Clippers fans in the stadium.

A heroic bailout from Big Government Reggie Jackson tied the game seven minutes to go in the fourth quarter. And despite a cut and dunk from Gordon who gave the Nuggets the advantage in the next game, after 41 minutes of play, this shot made one thing official: we had a game in our hands.

Jackson, who shot 1 of 9 in the first three quarters, made four crucial buckets when the Clippers needed him most. The first of which is mentioned above; the second tied the match; the third of those shots gave the Clippers a one point lead with 5:30 left in the fourth; the fourth put Jokic on a poster and sounded “Reggie” chants throughout the stadium.

Jokic, who immediately bounced back with two buckets of his own, added to his MVP record for the season. He was joined by Gordon, who provided an outlet for Jokic’s almost artistic vision on the pitch and contributed 30 points and 12 rebounds, with 68.8 percent shooting.

Ty Lue must find ways to motivate his team, in addition to giving himself big deficits to fight. Until he does, however, painful beginnings and incredibly fun endings like tonight are inevitable.

The Clippers, who appear to be thriving on their momentum, will look to build on Thursday’s final two games against the Pelicans, as they travel to New Orleans.

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