Amir Coffey made a clutch three with 2:30 left in regulation to retake a one-point lead and the Los Angeles Clippers overcame a 25-point third quarter deficit to defeat the Denver Nuggets 87-85 on Tuesday night at Crypto.com Arena.
Coffey led Los Angeles with 18 points, five rebounds and seven assists, Reggie Jackson scored 11 of his 13 in the fourth quarter and Terance Mann scored nine of his 13 in the fourth as well. Marcus Morris Sr had 12 and Eric Bledsoe added 11 and nine assists.
The Clippers remained without Kawhi Leonard (ACL), Paul George (elbow), Isaiah Hartenstein (ankle), Jason Preston (foot) and Luke Kennard, who missed his sixth game due to health and safety protocols. Justise Winslow missed his second.
“We’re going to scrap and compete every night. That’s what I like about this team,” Clippers coach Ty Lue said.
A Nicolas Batum three-pointer with 1:47 left gave the Clippers its lead to its largest lead of the night, 86-81, coming right after Coffey drained his long distance shot on the previous possession.
“Moments like these just helps you keep confidence,” Jackson said.
Aaron Gordon led the Nuggets by recording a season-high 30 points, while Nikola Jokic had 21 points, 13 rebounds and eight assists. Denver outrebounded Los Angeles 56-31 and led 59-34 midway through the third period before things had unraveled for the Nuggets.
“Maybe we get relaxed,” Jokic said. “Maybe we think it’s going to be easy. I don’t know. Something happens, especially when we make four 3s. It’s really hard for us to do anything.”
Los Angeles kept the pressure going in the fourth and limited Denver from feeding their MVP in Jokic as much as possible.
“We just kept chipping away,” Coffey said. “Just trying to throw some different coverages at Jokic, mess him up. Just trying to finish possessions with rebounds. … We just got it clicking there late in the third and took it over to the fourth.”
Jackson scored on four consecutive possessions for Los Angeles late in the fourth, his last being a dunk over Jokic that cut the Nuggets lead to 79-78 with 4:12 remaining. Jackson then added free throws after a dunk on the other end by Gordon and Coffey and Batum sealed the victory with back-to-back threes.
“I don’t know if it’s my favorite ever, but it’s definitely up there… And I’m not gonna lie, he is the former MVP right now, the reigning MVP feels a lot better to get a big play, a big dunk and then find a way to get the win,” Jackson said.
Jokic had a chance to win the game on a three-pointer with 2.5 seconds remaining but missed, as Gordon then followed up the play with a shot at the buzzer but hit the back of the rim, giving the Clippers an 87-85 thrilling victory.
“Defense saved us because offense, some nights, ain’t gonna go your way,” said Batum. “That happens in the NBA, can’t make shots, nobody can get it going, but defense is gonna be there.”
“It’s a great win, but we’ve got a long way to go,” Lue said.
The Clippers will next travel to take on the New Orleans Pelicans on Thursday at 5:00 p.m.