With the series tied at one game apiece, Game 3 was critical and both teams played like it. However, the LA Clippers pulled away late to take a 2-1 series lead.
Five players finished in double figures for Los Angeles while for Denver, that number was six. Both teams dominated the game in different aspects, which led to the competitive, close battle for the first 40:30 minutes of the game.
Plenty of takeaways from this one. So let's get right to it.
The game-sealing run in the final 8:29
Early in the fourth, the Nuggets opened up the game with a 9-2 run, giving them some breathing room with a 97-90 lead with 8:29 remaining. That forced Doc Rivers to call a timeout but after that pause, it was all Los Angeles.
They went on a quick 8-0 run which forced Michael Malone to burn a timeout but coming out of it, the Clippers didn't lose their momentum. They outscored their opponents 15-10 the rest of the way.
During this run, the Nuggets went 4-of-15 from the field, 0-of-6 from beyond the arc and turned the ball four times. Jamal Murray was responsible for eight of the team's 10 points in this span.
Kawhi Leonard, Paul George and Lou Williams scored five apiece and were responsible for 19 of the final 23 Clipper points.
Kawhi, PG lead Clippers
For the game, the two All-Stars led the way for the Clippers.
Kawhi Leonard bounced back from a rough Game 2 with an all-round performance. In his 42 minutes on the floor, he finished with 23 points, 14 rebounds, six assists, and two blocks. Given the high standards of efficiency he's set for himself in this postseason, this game was not up there with shooting splits of 47.4% from the field and 16.7% from the 3-point line.
Those numbers don't matter as much when he's pulling off a highlight-reel blocks in crunch time, like this one:
Kawhi denied Murray's dunk with his fingers 🖐- ESPN (@espn) September 8, 2020
The Clippers go up 2-1 on the Nuggets. pic.twitter.com/rbdleWODeO
Paul George found his shooting storke once again in this game. He scored a team-high 32 points on an efficient 12-of-18 shooting from the field while also recording four rebounds, four assists, and two steals.
Attack mode.@NBAonTNT | @Yg_Trece pic.twitter.com/08PxZVrmH2- LA Clippers (@LAClippers) September 8, 2020
Marcus Morris Sr. (12), Montrezl Harrell (11), and Lou Williams (10) were the other double-digits scorers with the former 3-time Sixth Man of the Year recording a game-high + 20 in his 28 minutes.
As a team, the Clippers shot 41-of-75 (54.7%) from the field and outscored the Nuggets 30-12 in fastbreak points.
Jokic's big game, Porter Jr. impresses
Nikola Jokic's big game is what kept the Nuggets in the contest. He finished with 32 points, 12 rebounds, and eight assists on 13-of-24 shooting from the field. He was carving up the Clippers' defence with some sensational assists:
Jokic full-court dime 🤯 pic.twitter.com/qqYYcIqeHT- NBA on TNT (@NBAonTNT) September 8, 2020
Jokic with the no-look dime 👀 pic.twitter.com/DKMlJHG5Re- NBA on TNT (@NBAonTNT) September 8, 2020
In the process, he passed Carmelo Anthony for most 30-10 playoff games in franchise history. The other impressive performance for the team was Michael Porter Jr.
In just 23 minutes, the 6'10" forward finished with 18 points, 10 rebounds, and three steals. Oh, and also this poster dunk on Harrell:
MPJ put his defender on a poster and his Dad was loving it 😤 pic.twitter.com/03ypolcCPl- NBA on TNT (@NBAonTNT) September 8, 2020
From the team's four other double-digit scorers, Jamal Murray and Jerami Grant, who played close to 40 minutes, struggled to knock down shots in this one. The duo combined for a 10-of-31 shooting performance from the field and 3-of-13 from beyond the arc.
"I put that game on me," Murray said postgame. "I gotta give my team little more help than that. And I will in Game 4."
Denver dominated the pain, outscore LA 58-42, they assisted on 32 of their 44 field goals but simply couldn't overcome their late scoring drought.
Game 4 is another pivotal contest in this series. Will the Nuggets tie it up once again or will the Clippers take a commanding 3-1 series lead?
Both teams will suit up again on Wednesday, Sept. 9th at 9:00 p.m. ET.
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