NBA

Denver Nuggets Stave off Elimination in Comeback Win Over the Clippers

Sep 11, 2020; Lake Buena Vista, Florida, USA; Denver Nuggets guard Jamal Murray (27) makes a basket over LA Clippers forward Marcus Morris Sr. (31) and forward Kawhi Leonard (2) during the first half of game five in the second round of the 2020 NBA Playoffs at ESPN Wide World of Sports Complex. Mandatory Credit: Kim Klement-USA TODAY Sports
Kim Klement-USA TODAY Sports

The Denver Nuggets took down the Los Angeles Clippers 111-105 to stay alive in the 2020 NBA playoffs. The deficit was cut to 3-2 in favor of LA.

The Clippers held a comfortable 12-point lead heading into halftime, as the franchise’s first Western Conference Finals appearance looked imminent. But the Nuggets weren’t ready to go down without a fight.

Denver stormed a resilient comeback in the second half thanks to 14 3rd-quarter points from Paul Millsap and stellar shooting in the 4th. They took their first lead of the game with 7 minutes left in the contest and didn’t look back.

A clutch 3-pointer and blocked shot from rookie Michael Porter Jr. on consecutive possessions gave Denver a 5-point lead and effectively sealed the deal. The 3 was Porter Jr’s only made field goal of the night, but it couldn’t have come at a better time. He showed that there was perhaps some truth to the controversial postgame comments he made after Game 4. 

Clippers star Kawhi Leonard was dominant as usual with 36 points — 13 of which came in the 4th quarter. He’s up to 29.8 points in this postseason, which ranks first among players currently in Orlando. 

But contrarily, the Clippers received minimal support from their elite bench duo of Lou Williams and Montrezl Harrell. They combined for only 10 points on 5/17 shooting, far below their combined points per game average of 36.8 in the regular season.

Tonight’s result looked eerily similar to previous playoff games from each team. The last time the Clippers played a closeout game up 3-1 in the second round, they similarly blew a lead to the Houston Rockets in 2015. Houston went on to win the series, which could cause some Clippers fans to feel nervous about history repeating itself. 

Additionally, the Nuggets’ performance tonight resembled that of Game five versus the Jazz in the first round of these playoffs. All looked well for the Jazz, who were up 3-1 with a late lead. But Denver turned it around with a 38-point 4th quarter to win the game, and later the series.

The respective similarities are possibly nothing more than a simple coincidence, but it’s something to keep an eye on if the Nuggets continue to make this series interesting. 

The Clippers will get another chance to close out the series on Sunday.

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