The LA Clippers tried to put up a fight, but ultimately didn’t have enough gas as they fell, 114-104 against the visiting Denver Nuggets.
The Clippers have been in this position before, without their two star players and taking on one of the top teams in the Western Conference. And for a while, it looked like they might make this game interesting.
They got off to a good start, matching the Nuggets intensity and finding themselves down only 31-26 at the end of the first quarter. Throughout the second quarter, the game had the feel as if the Clippers could possibly surprise the Nuggets if they could only keep the game close. Each time the Nuggets threatened to blow the game open, the Clippers would respond.
The Nuggets did manage to take some control though heading into halftime with a 64-52 lead.
In the third quarter, the Clippers continued to battle and it still felt like they had a puncher’s chance if they could only get some stops. The Nuggets once again threatened to put the game out of reach midway through the third, but a pair of three-pointers from Norman Powell and John Wall and some aggressive play to the rim kept the Clippers within striking distance, 87-77, heading into the final period.
What kind of killed the Clippers momentum at the beginning of the fourth quarter was missed free-throws. Powell missed a pair and Robert Covington missed one of two that would have cut further into the deficit. After that, the Nuggets superior shot making and the Clippers running out of gas was what did them in.
While the Clippers suffered a loss, they did show that they’re capable of scrapping and competing without their stars as they have done in seasons past. While it’s unrealistic to assume John Wall will have more games where he starts 7-7 from the field, he showed why the Clippers are perhaps better equipped to deal with the absence of Kawhi Leonard and Paul George. Much has been said about the depth of this team, and now they’re going to get a shot to show that they can still compete with the best of them.