The Nuggets shocked the Clippers in Game 2, blitzing LA in the first quarter and holding on for dear life late to even the series at one game apiece. Here are three stats that stand out from the Clippers’ disappointing effort Saturday.
44: Denver’s first-quarter point total
The Clippers hadn’t conceded a 40-point quarter in the playoffs until the first period of Game 2. Even the Mavericks — a historically great offense — only put up 38 in any given quarter, and that was the very first quarter of the series, before the Clippers had a chance to make any defensive adjustments.
But the Nuggets dropped 44 points in the first 12 minutes, one game after they had put up 97 points altogether. Denver made 17 of 24 shots in the opening session, including all eight field goals in the paint. Doc Rivers said postgame that the Clippers were giving Nikola Jokic all day to get his shots off, and Ivica Zubac acknowledged that he wasn’t good enough defensively to start the game, leading to Jokic’s 15 first-quarter points.
4-of-17: Kawhi is human
For 47 consecutive playoff games, Kawhi Leonard scored at least 15 points. That incredible streak came to an end on Saturday night, as Leonard finished with only 13 points. For the game, he was 4-for-17 from the field including 0-for-3 from deep. All night, Leonard just didn’t have his normal touch.
In addition to his cold night from the field, Leonard also finished the game with four turnovers. We’ve talked in the past about what would happen if Paul George had an off-game, but never took into account what would happen if Leonard had an off-game. George did have 22 points, but it wasn’t nearly enough for the Clippers to pull out a victory.
If I were to guess, I don’t think Leonard will finish with only 13 in the next game.
Yes, the Clippers lost by nine and were outplayed the entire game. However, looking back at it, they played a pretty good game and had multiple chances to win. We talked about the hot start Denver had, shooting nearly 100 percent from the field in the first quarter. After that opening quarter, the Clippers actually outscored the Nuggets by 10. Over the final three quarters, Denver shot less than 36 percent from the field.
As I mentioned, the Clippers were essentially outplayed all game, but if you were to see those stat lines over the final three quarters, you’d think LA would have come out on top.
The Nuggets needed that game more than the Clippers. After an awful performance in game 1, Denver desperately needed to tie the series or else it could be over in a potential sweep. They couldn’t miss anything early on, Kawhi was ice-cold, and yet the Clippers still had countless opportunities to win.
The Clippers will be just fine.