Just over a week after the Los Angeles Clippers were sent reeling by a pair of old friends, they will square off again against the visiting Denver Nuggets on Wednesday.
It was also in Los Angeles on Nov. 27 when the Nuggets took the floor without Nikola Jokic, Aaron Gordon and Jamal Murray on the second night of a back-to-back and still were able to rally past the Clippers for a 113-104 victory.
The Nuggets turned to former Clippers Reggie Jackson, who had 35 points with 13 assists, and DeAndre Jordan, who had 21 points and 13 rebounds. It was shades of Los Angeles’ former offense when the pick-and-roll with Jordan was a staple.
“We had our main guys out and it was really great for the team, a resilient group, the way we came together after being down by 11 in the fourth (quarter),” Jackson said.
“I might have been the one that was the recipient of the points, but my old head DJ getting on the rim, getting back in this building, looking like young ‘Lob City’ a little bit.”
The numbers all were season highs for both players, with Jordan surpassing the 20-point mark for the first time since March 24, 2019, as a member of the New York Knicks. His opponent that day? The Clippers.
Wednesday’s game was scheduled after both teams were eliminated from the in-season tournament, with Nuggets head coach Michael Malone now left to decide how much he wants to use the former Clippers against their old team again.
“The combination of Reggie and DeAndre created a lot of problems for them and gave us a lot of success,” Malone said.
Denver’s victory at Los Angeles was part of a four-game winning streak that ended Saturday with a 123-117 road loss to the Sacramento Kings, despite Jokic delivered his eighth triple-double of the season with 36 points, 13 rebounds and 14 assists.
The Clippers just might have pulled off their biggest victory of the brief James Harden era when they defeated the Golden State Warriors at home 113-112 on Saturday. The game came two days after the Warriors defeated the Clippers 120-114 in San Francisco.
Paul George had 25 points for the Clippers on Saturday. Harden had 21 points with nine assists and Kawhi Leonard had 20 points with eight rebounds and seven assists. The Clippers never led until George hit a step-back 3-pointer with 9.2 seconds remaining.
The Clippers are now 6-8 since Harden came aboard in a trade with the Philadelphia 76ers, but they have won six of their past nine. The team is confident that Saturday’s victory is a sign of things to come.
“I told PG and Kawhi before the game, ‘Let’s catch our rhythm. Let’s be good, like we’re going to be later in the season. Let’s start it now,'” Harden said. “(It) was a good step for us and we got a few days off to be ready to go Wednesday.”
With a victory in hand over the weekend against the 2022 NBA champions, the Clippers now have another test ahead against the 2023 champs.
“I think getting past all the mistakes, (Saturday) was a gutsy win for us,” Clippers coach Tyronn Lue said. “We needed to win like this just to keep fighting, keep scrapping, keep competing.”