LOS ANGELES (AP) — Nikola Jokic had 26 points and 22 rebounds, rallying Denver past the Los Angeles Clippers 103-100 on Sunday night after the Nuggets blew a 17-point lead.
The Nuggets led by 19 points against Charlotte in their previous game at home and lost. For a while, it looked like they’d give away another one, this time on the road.
Luke Kennard almost made it happen. His 3-pointer from the right corner with 19 seconds remaining got the Clippers to 101-100.
Jokic was trying to catch an inbounds pass when he got fouled by Eric Bledsoe, sending them both crashing into the Clippers bench. Jokic made both free throws to extend the Nuggets’ lead to three.
Brandon Boston Jr. took the Clippers’ final shot but his potential tying 3-pointer was off the mark at the buzzer.
Boston and Bledsoe led the Clippers with 18 points apiece. Bledsoe had 10 assists. Ivica Zubac had 17 points and 11 rebounds.
The Clippers were playing without Paul George, who is sidelined for up to a month with an ulnar collateral ligament tear in his right elbow. They lost for the fourth time in five games.
After scoring just five points in the third, Jokic scored nine in the fourth in addition to pulling down seven rebounds.
Will Barton added 17 points for Denver, which snapped a two-game skid.
Jokic helped the Nuggets tie the game at 93-all in the fourth. He fed Barton for the tying jumper after scoring on a hook shot and hitting a pair of free throws. Jokic’s 3-pointer gave Denver its first lead of the fourth, 96-94.
The Clippers erased a 17-point deficit in the third. They got outscored 10-2 to open the quarter, then closed on a 26-5 run to lead 83-79 going into the fourth.
Four reserves helped key the spurt, with Boston and Serge Ibaka hitting 3-pointers and Amir Coffey scoring on a drive. Bledsoe added seven points.
Monte Morris scored all five Denver points. The Clippers’ defense denied Jokic around the rim, leading to transition baskets for them on the offensive end.
A total of four players were out because of health and safety protocols, including Clippers starter Reggie Jackson. Fellow starter Marcus Morris exited protocols before the game, but remains out while he goes through reconditioning. Denver’s Michael Porter Jr. and Bol Bol were in protocols.
Nuggets: Jokic finished with eight rebounds. … They got back to .500 at 16-16. … They traveled without six players.
Clippers: George complained of soreness in his elbow after Wednesday’s win at Sacramento and had an MRI, which revealed the ligament tear. … Backup big man Isaiah Hartenstein missed his second straight game with a left ankle sprain. … Signed Xavier Moon to a 10-day contract under the league’s COVID-related hardship allowance.
Nuggets: At Golden State on Tuesday.
Clippers: Host Brooklyn on Monday to complete a back-to-back.
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