Saturday night teams in the NBA playoffs are about building things. After the Toronto Raptors beat Boston Celtics 2-2 in Game 4 of their series, the Denver Nuggets followed suit. They beat the Los Angeles Clippers 110-101 in Game 2 1-1.
After the outbreak in Game 1, the Nuggets came up with something to prove in Game 2, down 44 points in the first quarter and advancing to a 19-point lead. Their lead rose to 23 and the Klippers struggled again in the fourth quarter but were able to hang on to the Nuggets. Jamal Murray led the way with 27 points, while Nicola Jogic added 26 points and 18 rebounds.
Paul George went on to score 22 points, and the Clippers had six players in double figures at night, but that was almost not enough. They were terrible at the defensive end in the first half, turning the ball over 17 times and shooting 28.1 percent off the 3-point range. It’s hard to win playoff games with a mix of flaws.
Here are some key examples from the game:
Knuckles’ fourth-quarter response
Denver were unstoppable early on, advancing to a 19-point lead at the end of the first quarter. It’s going to get headlines, it’s worth it, but it’s not really the biggest extension of the game for nails. Instead, it was their response in the fourth quarter after the Clippers came back into the game.
At the start of the fourth, George drilled a 3-pointer to reduce the deficit to five points. With more than eight minutes left in the game, the nuggets were in the danger zone. When the heat started to run in the fourth quarter, they could have easily collapsed by that time, as seen in the bucks the other night.
Instead, the Nuggets showed some interesting solution and came up with an answer. Jogic stepped inside for a Nifty reverse lap, then Gary Harris filtered two triples and Jeremy Grant scored 10-0 for two free throws. Suddenly they returned by 15 for more than five minutes to play.
The Clippers kept advancing, but ended the game based on a game played by the Knights.
Kavi fights for the first time in the playoffs
Kavi Leonard, who revealed his final MVP performance last season, was once again incredible in the playoffs. He scored at least 29 points and scored at least 45.5 percent in each of the Clippers’ first seven games. That streak ended in Game 2 because he gave up just 13 points for 4-of-17 shooting from the field.
This is not only his worst game of the latter season, but also his lowest-scoring playoff performance since he was with Spurs in 2016. To be fair to Leonard, he was a little unlucky at night. Many of his misses bumped in and out, and he deserved a few more calls than he got.
At the same time, Denver deserves credit for making things harder. Grant checked on him all night, and there were often assistant guards who would show up to help if Leonard entered the alley. Aside from having Leonard with the worst shooting night of the postseason, the Nuggets forced him to a playoff-high four turning points.
Denver’s stock players are advancing
This is the Jamal Murray and Nicola Jogic show for nails so far in the playoffs. Those doubles averaged 53.9 points per game or half of what the Nuggets scored on a nightly basis. It was enough against Jazz in the first round, but getting so much offense from two players consistently was not really consistent.
In Game 2, Murray (27 points) and Jogik (26) once again took the lead, this time with some help. Paul Millsab and Harris each scored 13 runs, Michael Porter Jr. came off the bench to chip in 11 runs, while Monte Morris added 10 runs.
It was the best scoring game of the post-season for Harris, who returned to action late in the first round after a hip injury. His contributions were particularly significant as he dropped three triples in the fourth quarter, which sealed the victory as part of a 10-0 run.
If the nipples in this series want to upset the clippers, they will need more nights like this, where many of the guys are moving forward to help Murray and Jog carry the burden.
Incredible quote written by Jogik
Not really much to add, this is a fantastic quote.