Will Barton scored 31 points and Nikola Jokic added 23 points, 11 rebounds and 11 assists for his ninth triple-double of the season as the Denver Nuggets rolled past the Los Angeles Clippers 134-115 on Saturday afternoon at Staples Center in Los Angeles and remained in the hunt for the postseason.
The win was the fifth straight for the Nuggets, who are still out of the playoff picture but tied, record-wise, with eighth-place Minnesota. The Timberwolves hold the head-to-head tiebreaker between the two teams, but there is still plenty to be decided between now and April 11, the final day of the NBA’s regular season.
The Clippers were eliminated from playoff consideration with Saturday’s loss. Los Angeles has lost four of its past five games.
Denver (45-35) outscored the Clippers in every quarter and put the game away with a final decisive run in the first half of the fourth period that garnered the Nuggets a 119-101 lead.
Jamal Murray added 19 points while Paul Millsap hit for 15, Wilson Chandler scored 13 and Mason Plumlee and Devin Harris tallied 11 and 10, respectively, for Denver.
Lou Williams scored 24 points off the bench to lead the Clippers, with Tyrone Wallace pouring in 18, and DeAndre Jordan and Tobias Harris adding 16 points each. Montrezl Harrell contributed 14 points and Austin Rivers racked up 10 for Los Angeles.
The Nuggets led 66-58 at halftime behind 16 points from Barton and 15 points and 7 rebounds from Jokic. The two combined to hit 12 of their 15 shots in the first half as Denver outshot the Clippers 63 percent to 40 percent over the first 24 minutes of play.
Los Angeles kept the game within arm’s reach thanks to Wallace’s 12 points, Rivers’ 10 points and Jordan’s 10 points and 12 rebounds.
The Nuggets took a 101-89 lead into the fourth quarter before pulling away to an 18-point advantage on three Murray free throws with 7:14 to play.
Denver returns to the court on Monday when it hosts third-place Portland; the Nuggets conclude the regular season with a game at Minnesota on Wednesday that could have a huge bearing on who makes the playoffs.
The Clippers will still have a chance to have an impact on the postseason when they host New Orleans on Monday in their next-to-last game of the season. Los Angeles will end its campaign against the team that shares its home arena, the Los Angeles Lakers, on Wednesday.
—Field Level Media