It was 31-31 after one quarter.
Then everything changed — and that was bad news for the Denver Nuggets.
Kawhi Leonard got comfortable and found his lanes to attack the Denver defense. The deep Clippers’ bench started to play a role. The Clippers defense started to clamp down on Denver’s playmakers and the Nuggets had no answers — Denver shot 5-of-20 in the quarter. The Clippers shot 13-of-19 in the frame.
The Los Angeles Clippers won the quarter 38-20, dominating both ends of the court, and ran away and hid after that going on to win 120-97 in a game that saw a lot of garbage time through the fourth.
“That was the best we’ve done so far against an opponent,” Paul George said of a Clipper team looking better each game. “We locked into our assignments and followed the game plan.”
How dominating was the Clippers win? Kawhi Leonard had 29 points for the Clippers and didn’t play in the fourth. The Nuggets two stars, Nikola Jokic and Jamal Murray, combined for 27 points (and nine assists).
If the Clippers role players are knocking down shots like that, they are almost unbeatable. Denver didn’t show the defense to stop them in Game 1. The Clippers had 66 points in the paint and a team true shooting percentage of 65.6.
Murray dominated against the Jazz last round, but the Clippers have better defenders, and they were increasingly aggressive against Murray as the game wore on because the Clippers didn’t fear Nuggets’ role players.
Denver’s offense devolved into too much isolation, which the Clippers smothered.
The only upside to this blowout: We had a Bol Bol sighting.
Denver was playing 48 hours after a dramatic, emotional Game 7 win against Utah, and that left them flat going against a rested Clippers team, something Denver players admitted postgame. Now the Nuggets have just 48 hours again to find some answers.
Because the Clippers are getting better and better each game. Which should scare the rest of the league.