|2:00 PM PT3:00 PM MT4:00 PM CT5:00 PM ET22:00 GMT6:00 3:00 PM MST5:00 PM EST2:00 UAE (+1)23:0017:00 ET4:00 PM CTNaN:� , December 22, 2018
Staples Center, Los Angeles, California Attendance: 16,571
Nuggets carry four-game win streak into game vs. Clippers
Denver Nuggets at Los Angeles Clippers
- The Nuggets have won four straight games, but lost their two most recent road games to Charlotte and Atlanta on December 7 and 8. Denver was held to an average of 102.5 points in those two losses after averaging 110.2 points over its previous five road games, all wins.
- Nikola Jokic scored 32 points, grabbed 16 rebounds and dished out four assists in Denver's win over Dallas on Tuesday. It was his 12th game with at least 50 combined points, assists and rebounds since the beginning of last season, tied with Joel Embiid for most among centers in that span.
- The Clippers beat the Mavericks last night, 125-121, snapping a four-game losing streak. After finishing November with a 15-6 (.714) record, Los Angeles has gone 3-7 (.300) in December. The Clippers' win percentage decline of -.414 is the largest in the NBA (pre-Dec to Dec).
- Danilo Gallinari scored a season-high 32 points in LA's win over Dallas last night, connecting on 68.8 percent of his field-goal attempts (11-of-16). The Clippers have gone 9-2 (.818) this season when Gallinari shoots at least 50.0 percent, compared to 8-11 (.421) otherwise.
- The Nuggets beat the Clippers in Los Angeles, 107-98, in each team's season opener. Denver made 33 free throws in the win, its most this season. The Nuggets have won six of their last seven games when making at least 30 free throws, and have gone 343-157 (.686) in 500 such games all-time.
- Denver averages 14.2 turnovers on the season while Los Angeles is committing 14.8 per game; the Clippers have gone 5-1 (.833) when committing fewer turnovers than their opponent (third-best record in NBA) while the Nuggets have gone 11-3 (.786) in such games (fifth-best record in NBA).
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LOS ANGELES -- Each freshly tested by the same opponent, the visiting Denver Nuggets and Los Angeles Clippers will enter their latest meeting knowing their offenses are in sync but that their defenses that could use a little fine tuning.
The Nuggets will bring a four-game winning streak into Staples Center, as well as the best record in the Western Conference, coming off a 126-118 victory over the Dallas Mavericks on Tuesday.
The Clippers, atop the Western Conference as recently as the beginning of the month before a recent slide, are coming off a 125-121 victory over the Mavericks on Thursday that ended their four-game losing streak.
Instrumental in the Clippers' visit back to the win column was the return of Lou Williams, who had missed the previous four games with a hamstring issue. Williams' return was seamless as one of the league's top-scoring bench players registered 26 points, half of which came in the deciding fourth quarter.
"I think it just gives us confidence when we have him on the floor," Clippers coach Doc Rivers said of Williams' return. "It is not that you are going to go to him, but he is going to be involved. It gives us closure at the end of the game."
Indeed, the Clippers saw just how much closure Williams provides. In the fourth quarter, the Mavericks erased all of a 13-point Clippers lead. But Los Angeles regained lead for good with just over three minutes remaining, fittingly on two Williams free throws.
The Nuggets' Nikola Jokic continues to show how indispensable he has become. He is coming off a dominating outing against the Mavericks when he had 32 points and 16 rebounds.
Jokic has a double-double in each of the Nuggets' four consecutive victories and has not scored less than 24 points in any of those games. And that doesn't even account for Jokic's career-best 7.4 assists per game, which is tied for ninth best in the NBA.
His elite-level play has helped the Nuggets to not only play well despite injuries to Paul Millsap (foot), Gary Harris (hip), Will Barton (hip), Michael Porter Jr. (back) and Isaiah Thomas (hip), but to thrive.
"I think Nikola is showing everybody in the NBA, with three starters out, that he is a most valuable player candidate," Nuggets coach Michael Malone said, according to the Denver Post. "Not just from a stats standpoint, but he does it every single night in so many different ways. That's why he's a special player."
The Nuggets are 21-9, matching the 1976-77 team for best 30-game start in franchise history. If there is an area that needs work, it is with their 8-6 road record.
The Nuggets lost each of their last two road games, at Atlanta and Charlotte, and will head to Los Angeles to face a Clippers team that had its nine-game home winning streak snapped earlier this month.
Even in losing six of the last eight games, the Clippers are 18-13. While Williams has returned, forward Luc Mbah a Moute, who has missed almost the entire season, remains out with a knee injury.
Updated December 21, 2018