Just like we all expected: the LA Clippers won a nail-biter in Denver against the Nuggets, led by Boban Marjanovic, Tyrone Wallace, Montrezl Harrell, Milos Teodosic, and Lou Williams...in a game where the Nuggets put up 120 points and welcomed the return of star forward Paul Millsap.
The Clippers were down by just 6 at halftime despite poor play, and had been out-rebounded 28-20, including 8 offensive boards for the Nuggets. The Clippers’ transition defense was all out of sorts for much of the night, and their offense wasn’t getting much help, either. By halftime, only Austin Rivers had scored in double figures for the Clippers, with 14. Starters Tobias Harris, DeAndre Jordan, and Wesley Johnson combined for just 15 points in the entire game. The Clippers found themselves down by as many as 19 well into the second half, after not leading since the 1st quarter. Doc Rivers eventually decided, during a 3rd quarter that wasn’t going so well, he’d shake up his rotation. He implemented a unit of Williams, Teodosic, Wallace, Harrell, and Marjanovic (who would get his first non-garbage minutes as a Clipper). The shakeup certainly paid off.
The unit Doc inserted during the 3rd closed the quarter on a 13-2 run, making the game at least appear competitive again. By the beginning of the 4th quarter, the Bobi Show was in full swing, leaving Nuggets defenders very confused on assignments and switches. In very limited minutes, Boban was largely unstoppable, drawing fouls on nearly every possession when they got him the ball; the double-teams he drew left wide-open lanes for Harrell to slash, and even created great spacing opportunities for Williams and Teodosic. The Clippers would eventually surge past the Nuggets, leading by as many as 8 (they also re-affirmed Lawler’s Law). In the end, every Nuggets starter had at least 18 points and it didn’t matter much, because the Clippers bench had outscored the Nuggets bench, 74-24. The Clippers managed to come away with the win, even despite some late-game close calls.
The Element of Surprise
Even though Lou Williams led the Clippers in both scoring and assists, with 25 and 6, respectively, Boban Marjanovic deserves the game ball for tonight’s game. He put in the work at both ends of the floor, finishing the game with 18 points, 6 rebounds, 2 steals, 1 block, and 1 assist in just 15 minutes. What was most impressive about his time on the floor was that the Nuggets had no clue what to do with him. When they played him straight-up, even with their tallest player, he just shot baby hooks over the top. When they double-teamed him, he fought through to draw fouls or passed the ball. And when he got to the line, he made 8 of 9 shots. It helped that Harrell was finding lanes, that Williams began to score like himself again, and that Wallace adjusted accordingly. But Boban’s mere presence altered the Nuggets’ game plan at both ends and completely shifted the course of the game. Hopefully it won’t be the last that we see of the Bobi Show.
The Clippers are, once again, 8th place in the Western Conference. The Nuggets are now on the outside looking in, but it will still be a tough road ahead for Clippers. They have one of the toughest remaining schedules in the NBA, and are still without Avery Bradley for 1-3 weeks while Danilo Gallinari remains day-to-day. Jawun Evans is also still out, without a definite timeframe for his return. And the pending expiration of the two-way contracts for Tyrone Wallace and C.J. Williams leave some tough decisions ahead for the Clippers front office. But after snagging one of the best wins of the season, in a very tough place to play, maybe some of the Clippers’ mojo can carry over into tomorrow night’s matchup against the Houston Rockets.