There was no bad luck for the Nuggets’ 13th road game of the season Friday in Los Angeles.
The Nuggets nearly led wire-to-wire in the 114-104 win over the Clippers. Denver’s eight road wins lead the NBA.
Aaron Gordon led the way with 29 points to go with seven rebounds, three assists, two steals and two blocks. Jamal Murray added 21 points, nine assists and six rebounds, while Nikola Jokic posted 19 points, 13 rebounds and six assists. Vlatko Cancar, who was promoted to sixth man after his big game in Oklahoma City, led Denver’s reserves with 13 points and blocked another shot.
John Wall led the Clippers with 23 points.
While the Nuggets played without Michael Porter Jr. (heel contusion), Jeff Green (knee contusion) and Bones Hyland (illness), the Clippers were without their two biggest stars, Kawhi Leonard and Paul George, and sharpshooter Luke Kennard.
After missing nearly a month with a calf strain, reserve point guard Ish Smith returned to the Nuggets’ rotation and provided a boost to the second unit.
The Nuggets led by five after the first quarter and stretched the lead to 12 by halftime behind an 18-6 advantage in points off turnovers. Aaron Gordon and Nikola Jokic both had two steals in the first half. Denver maintained a 10-point advantage to start the fourth quarter. The lead grew to as many as 21 in the final quarter, and the Nuggets improved to 12-7 on the season.
What went right: The Nuggets played a clean and unselfish game from top to bottom, finishing with 27 assists and just six turnovers. Murray led the charge with nine assists to one turnover, and Jokic was the only Nuggets player to finish with multiple giveaways (2).
What went wrong: It looked like the Nuggets were trying to get Jack White his first NBA points in the final minutes of the game but had no such luck. The rookie on a two-way contract missed both of his 3-point attempts in the final couple of minutes. He could have more opportunities in the next week to get on the board.
Highlight of the night: The second unit had some fun early in the second quarter. First, Zeke Nnaji put down an alley oop from Bruce Brown. Brown was then on the receiving end after Ish Smith stuffed Norm Powell’s jumper and started the break. Smith lobbed it up to Brown, whose one-handed dunk put the Nuggets up 12.
On deck: The Nuggets return to Denver for consecutive games against the Rockets on Monday and Wednesday.