The L.A. Clippers (21-21) roared back from a 25-point deficit in the third quarter to stun the Denver Nuggets (20-19), 87-85, Tuesday night. Amir Coffey was sensational in a game-high 43 minutes, leading the way for LA with 18 points (6-11 FG, 3-7 3PT, 3-3 FT), five rebounds, a career-high seven assists, and four steals. Eric Bledsoe spurred the Clippers’ comeback effort in the second half, adding in 11 points, three boards, nine assists, and three steals off the bench. Nikola Jokić was elite for Denver with 21 points (9-14 FG, 1-3 3PT, 2-2 FT), 13 rebounds, and eight assists. Read on for our full Clippers vs. Nuggets game recap.

Summary

The first quarter was one to forget for both teams as the bricks piled up early. LA and Denver combined for 14-for-44 from the field and 1-for-17 from deep — an Amir Coffey 3 with 1:12 left. Outside of Nikola Jokić being masterful both one-on-one in the post and hitting guys in positions to score, both teams kind of just exchanged bricks before eventually getting easy ones on the occasion where the opposition was late to recover. On the bright side, despite Ivica Zubac exiting with foul trouble early, the Clippers held up relatively well both on the glass and defensively. Coffey was easily the best Clipper on the floor here, leading the team with a team-high seven points, making impressive reads on passes, and being nearly perfect on defense outside of giving up one backdoor layup to Monte Morris. After one, the Nuggets held an 18-16 lead.

In an NBA game in 2022, the score was 41-28 at the half. Here’s what happened. At this point, it was quite clear that, as advertised, these were two great defensive teams, but also two putrid offenses. Although the Nuggets were shooting the ball at below a league-average level here, the Clippers were even worse. Reggie Jackson and Marcus Morris Sr. were whisper quiet from the field here as well, while Zubac found himself on the pine once again after picking up his third foul less than 90 seconds into the frame. LAC actually led by two early on in the frame, but the Nuggets soon went on an 8-0 run despite Jokić being out. With Jokić back in, the Nuggets’ starters steadily marched their way to a 13-point lead at the break.

Things quickly went from bad to rock bottom to start the third as with Jackson and Zubac continuing to be devoid of any rhythm whatsoever, the Nuggets began to shoot the ball like a professional basketball team. After being down by as much as 25, however, Tyronn Lue went to an Eric Bledsoe-Terance Mann-Coffey-Nicolas Batum-Morris Sr. lineup that changed the game. By virtue of a 21-3 run, the Clippers’ intensity ramped up as the Nuggets’ focus began to dwindle. Bledsoe’s energy appeared to be just the shot in the arm the Clips needed as Mann, Coffey, Batum, and Morris Sr. picked it up on drastically on both ends. Frustrating Jokić and Denver to the tune of seven errors in the period, the Clippers found themselves down just 66-55 heading to the final frame.

With Brandon Boston Jr. and Serge Ibaka in to give Batum and Morris Sr. some rest, the Clippers kept their foot on the gas pedal against Denver’s bench with a swift 7-0 run to force Michael Malone to signal time. After about another minute went by, and with LAC within two, Jokić checked back in for the rest of the game. With a bit more time needed to burn off the clock before Batum and Morris Sr. could check back in, Bledsoe and the suddenly-engaged Jackson stepped it up with some timely baskets to keep things level. With 4:24 left to play and Denver up by three, the Bledsoe-Jackson-Coffey-Batum-Morris Sr. lineup simply clutched up. Although he was able to find Aaron Gordon for some easy looks, Jokić did not have a fun time at the end of this one (see: Reggie Jackson poster below). Going 1-for-4 from the field to close, the Clippers’ small-ball unit did just enough to throw the reigning MVP off his stuff and secure a much-much-needed, oh-so-dramatic win.

Clippers vs. Nuggets Game Notes

  • Bravo, Amir Coffey: It all came together once again for Amir Coffey tonight, who was effective on both ends. Disrupting passing lanes, using his size and speed to make switches on the fly, hitting teammates in stride, finishing in traffic, and knocking down open threes, Coffey is seriously showing out as of late.
  • Rotation Adjustments: With the Clippers getting waxed in the first half, one of the strangest things that jumped off of the box score was Eric Bledsoe playing just six minutes and 50 seconds despite tallying as many assists as Reggie Jackson (17:10) in that short span. Well, hats off to Ty Lue and his staff tonight. They coached their asses off the rest of the way despite the team being outrebounded 56-31. With a nine-man rotation — including putting rookie Brandon Boston Jr. in situations to contribute — the minutes were given to the guys who were playing well, the team effectively mixed in their zone schemes, and timeouts were taken at just the right times to give guys breathers, draw up ATOs, and make crucial subs.
  • Big Govy Does it Again: Speaking of big coaching decisions, Lue went with a cold Reggie Jackson to close over Terance Mann and was immensely rewarded for it. Much deliberation will have to continue regarding Jackson’s rough starts, as well as his skill set perhaps being not needed as much as Bledsoe’s with the stars being out, but tonight’s fourth-quarter showing from him was nothing short of special to watch.

Up Next: The Clippers will visit the Smoothie King Center to face off against the New Orleans Pelicans for the third time this season on Thursday, Jan. 13, at 5:00 p.m. PT.

213Hoops is an independently owned and operated L.A. Clippers blog by Clippers fans, for Clippers fans. If you enjoy our content, please consider subscribing to our Patreon. Subscriptions start at $1 a month and support from readers like you goes a long way towards helping us keep 213Hoops sustainable, growing, and thriving.

Ralston Dacanay

Ralston Dacanay

Ralston joined 213Hoops as a game coverage writer in March 2021. A class of 2020 alum of California State University, Long Beach, he graduated with a B.A. in Journalism and a minor in Finance.

Subscribe
Notify of
36 Comments
Oldest
Newest Most Voted
Inline Feedbacks
View all comments
36
0
Would love your thoughts, please comment.x
()
x