Sometimes the game of basketball is as simple as which team has the best two players on the floor. Tonight, as the media romanticized Kauhi Leonard’s return with Paul George and continued mental gymnastics to tease anyone other than Nikola Jokic as MVP, the duo of Jokic and Michael Porter Jr. beat the LA Clippers by 110 points -104.
On national television (and in front of Jamal Murray!), Jokic prepared for a master class by scoring a great 30 points, 14 rebounds and seven assists. He took over the game in the third quarter as he gutted Stripe’s Tooth as a fish on his way to 18 points in the third, scoring in every way possible: laying, tomahawk dunking, three, Sombor Shuffle. If it hadn̵
MPJ’s transcendence continued when he set fire to the nets in the fire of the team that handed him over twice in the project. Porter had 25 points in a 4-7 depth shot, but he also had seven rebounds and five assists in his repertoire tonight. It’s a great feeling to have someone on your team who can shoot and influence the game the way he did – especially in the fourth quarter, when he cooks for eight points in the opening minutes of the frame.
George and Leonard combined 36 points for the Clippers, but the really annoying Rajon Rondo and Demarcus Cousins kept Los Angeles even in the game off the bench. The cousins replaced the aforementioned Zubak and did a much better job, bothering Jokic as they pushed back 16 points, and Rondo slipped and slid to 18 of his own points.
In the end, that wasn’t enough, as Jokic led the Nuggets to victory, inflicting a huge foul on Cousins at the end of the fourth in a three-point attempt and finding a wide-open Facundo Campazzo in three shortly after.
Other notable performances came from Paul Millsap and JaMychal Green in the first and second quarters, combining 17 points while helping the lineup of Shaq Harrison and Austin Rivers to stifle the Clippers bench. PJ Dozier had 16 points and made a positive contribution to the offense in addition to his defensive work, keeping George at 5-for-21 at night.
The Nuggets, 9-1 without Murray and winners of five straight, improved to 43-21 this year and are now third in the Western Conference through a tiebreak. They will spend the weekend in Los Angeles before taking over the Lakers on Monday night, again on ESPN.