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Nuggets make nearly all their shots early, beat Clippers in Game 2

Nikola Jokic in Nuggets-Clippers Game 2

ORLANDO, FL - SEPTEMBER 5: Nikola Jokic #15 of the Denver Nuggets drives to the basket against the LA Clippers during Game Two of the Western Conference Semifinals of the NBA Playoffs on September 5, 2020 at the AdventHealth Arena at ESPN Wide World Of Sports Complex in Orlando, Florida. NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that, by downloading and/or using this Photograph, user is consenting to the terms and conditions of the Getty Images License Agreement. Mandatory Copyright Notice: Copyright 2020 NBAE (Photo by Garrett Ellwood/NBAE via Getty Images)

NBAE via Getty Images

ESPN’s “The Jump” runs a segment called “Make or Miss” that begins with NBA players saying, “It’s a make-or-miss league.”

Clippers guard Patrick Beverley refused to participate:

Beverley fights for every inch on (and off) the court. To him, games are decided by effort and grit – not shooting luck.

Which might explain why he was so frustrated tonight.

After losing Game 1 by 23, the Nuggets evened their second-round series with the Clippers with a 110-101 win Saturday. Denver built a 23-point lead in the first half while shooting 76% on 2-pointers and 67% on 3-pointers.

L.A.'s defense wasn’t disruptive, but it wasn’t particularly porous, either. The Nuggets just made shots. So many shots.

Denver’s offense cooled considerably the rest of the way (38% on 2-pointers, 25% on 3-pointers). But that early deficit was too much for L.A. to overcome.

Beverley got an early exit with a fourth-quarter ejection:

The Nuggets – who just overcame a 3-1 deficit to beat the Jazz in round one – continued to show their fight. Teams that lost Game 1 of a series by at least 20 points had lost Game 2 66% of the time.

“Game 1, we were tired,” said Denver guard Jamal Murray, who foreshadowed that. “I hate to admit it. But we were tired. We came out sloppy, came out exhausted, fatigued.”

Murray (28 points) and Nikola Jokic (26 points and 18 rebounds) led Denver tonight, and several role players helped. Gary Harris (13 points on 4-of-7 3-point shooting with superb defense) was particularly inspiring as he reintegrates into the lineup after injury.

The Nuggets also played better team defense, particularly against Kawhi Leonard (13 points on 4-of-17 shooting).

Was Denver’s defense as stifling as the Clippers made it look at times? No. L.A. was both a bit flat and a bit cold.

That just won’t get it done when a high-offensive-ceiling team catches fire.