LOS ANGELES (AP) – Jamal Murray scored 23 points, and the Denver Nuggets led all the way in beating the Los Angeles Clippers 101-94 on Thursday night for their fourth straight victory.
The Nuggets dominated the first three quarters on a night when Nikola Jokic didn’t reach double figures until hitting a 3-pointer with 5:20 left in the game. He finished with 14 points, seven rebounds, and seven assists.
Kawhi Leonard led the Clippers with 24 points and 12 rebounds. Paul George had 17 points and eight rebounds in his return after missing two games with a sore right foot. Terance Mann added 18 points off the bench.
The Clippers made a run in the fourth, opening with a 13-3 spurt that left them trailing 84-83.
But Denver outscored them the rest of the way. Jokic’s 3-pointer extended the Nuggets’ lead to six, and Murray’s 3 made it 96-88. Michael Porter Jr. added 20 points, and Will Barton had 19 points for Denver.
The Clippers, who lead the NBA in 3-point shooting, were 10 of 34 from long-range.
Leonard scored 11 points in the third when the Clippers trailed by 18 early on. He set up a dunk by Patrick Patterson and a 3-pointer from Mann before Leonard hit just his second 3. They followed 81-70, heading into the fourth. Jokic was the only Denver starter not in double figures by halftime. He had four points on 2-of-7 shooting, five rebounds, and four assists.
The Clippers were out of sorts from the start. They were just 6 of 17 from the floor in the first quarter when Denver led by 13. Their foibles continued in the second. George was out on the break and missed an easy dunk. Nicolas Batum came in to clean up and was also ignored.
Nuggets: Aaron Gordon scored 14 points in his third game since Orlando joined the team last week. He had 13 and six points in his first two games. … They dished out 28 assists; in the 14th straight game, they’ve had 25 or more. Clippers: They got outscored 42-40 in the paint. … The ball got stuck behind the backboard in the fourth, and Batum’s height came in handy in getting it dislodged.
Nuggets: Host Orlando on Sunday.
Clippers: Host the Lakers on Sunday.
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