NBA Basketball

Final 1 2 3 4 Tot
Denver 32 32 15 24 103
LA Clippers 30 25 28 17 100
6:00 PM PT7:00 PM MT8:00 PM CT9:00 PM ET2:00 GMT10:00 7:00 PM MST9:00 PM EST6:00 UAE (+1)03:0021:00 ET8:00 PM CT0:00 , December 26, 2021 Arena, Los Angeles, California  Attendance: 17,759

Clippers, Nuggets hope to escape so-so seasons

According to STATS
According to STATS

Denver Nuggets at Los Angeles Clippers

  1. The visiting team won all three meetings between the Nuggets and Clippers last season (Denver, 2; LA, 1). In those three games, the road teams shot 46.2 percent from three-point range compared to 33.7 percent for the home teams.
  2. The Nuggets fell to the Hornets on Thursday, 115-107, blowing a 17-point lead from the start of the fourth quarter. That ties the largest blown-lead loss at the end of the third quarter in franchise history (also in February 2000 vs. Minnesota).
  3. Nikola Jokic had 29 points, 20 rebounds and five assists against Charlotte, leading Denver in each category (including ties). Jokic has led the Nuggets in points, rebounds and assists nine times this season, the most such games by any player in the NBA.
  4. The Clippers snapped a three-game losing streak with a 105-89 win at Sacramento on Wednesday. Los Angeles scored 29 points on the fast break in the game, its most in a single game this season and nine more than it scored in its past three games combined (20).
  5. Paul George had five steals against the Kings and is averaging 24.7 points, 5.5 assists and 2.0 steals per game this season. At 6'8", George in on pace to be the tallest player to average 20.0 points, 5.0 assists and 2.0 steals per game since LeBron James in 2004-05.
  6. The difference between Nikola Jokic's 25.9 points per game and Will Barton's 15.1 is the largest gap between a team's leading and second-leading scorers this season. With Reggie Jackson unavailable, the Clips' highest scorer behind Paul George (24.7) is Luke Kennard (11.7; minimum 15 games played).

The Denver Nuggets and Los Angeles Clippers were expected to challenge for supremacy in the Western Conference this season, but more than one-third of the way through the campaign, they are searching for stability.

Injuries and health and safety protocols have affected both teams and instead of sitting near the top of the conference, they are mired in mediocrity. Both will look to break out of it when they meet in Los Angeles on Sunday night.

The extent of the Clippers' latest injury came with Saturday's announcement that star Paul George will miss at least three weeks with a tear in the ulnar collateral ligament in his right elbow. The injury first surfaced after a 102-90 victory at Portland, and it was originally diagnosed as a contusion.

Instead, George, who has averaged 24.7 points with 7.1 rebounds and 5.5 assists this season, adds to a list of absences that includes Kawhi Leonard, who hasn't played all season while recovering from a surgically repaired ACL.

Also gone are Marcus Morris Sr. and Reggie Jackson, who are in the league's health and safety protocols, and Isaiah Hartenstein (ankle) and Luke Kennard (shoulder) out with injuries.

Despite missing all of those players except for George, Los Angeles snapped a three-game losing streak on Wednesday night. The 105-89 win over Sacramento served as a breakout game for Serge Ibaka, who had been buried on the depth chart with the play of Hartenstein and Ivica Zubac. Ibaka had 17 points and five rebounds in 20 minutes.

The game ended a frustrating stretch for Ibaka.

"I'm going to be honest with you, as a human being it can be frustrating," Ibaka said after Wednesday's win. "As a coach, (Tyronn Lue) tries to do his best he can to keep the team together, to keep the team playing the best basketball you can and as a player, like, hard worker, someone who loves basketball like me, I want to play, too.

"At the same time, it can be really frustrating ... but that doesn't mean I'm going to stop being (a) professional. ... At the end of the day I'm still blessed, man. If I'm not playing, even when I went to play in the G-League, my checks still come in."

Chances are Ibaka will get some time guarding Nikola Jokic, who has been playing well despite his team's struggles. Jokic had 29 points and a season-high 21 rebounds in a loss to Charlotte and has four triple-doubles in December.

The loss to the Hornets was Denver's second straight and a tough one to take. The Nuggets led by 19 in the third quarter and 17 at the start of the fourth but were outscored 38-13 in the final 12 minutes.

Denver is just 5-6 in the month and is feeling the absence of several players. Jamal Murray has not played yet, Michael Porter Jr. had back surgery and will miss the rest of the year and several players have been in and out of the lineup recently.

Aaron Gordon missed Thursday's game, and rookie Bones Hyland has been battling ankle issues.

Hyland gutted out 14 minutes after rolling his right ankle on Wednesday night in Oklahoma City but had just three points.

"It's been unfortunate because that ankle injury has been reoccurring, kind of nagging him throughout," coach Michael Malone said Thursday before tipoff. "He's proven to be a guy off the bench that is a scoring spark. A guy that can get his own shot.

"He's too valuable for us to miss games."

He should play Sunday night, but Gordon's status hasn't been announced.

-Field Level Media

Updated December 25, 2021

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