LOS ANGELES (AP) — Jamal Murray scored 24 points, Michael Porter Jr. added 22 and the Denver Nuggets beat the Los Angeles Clippers 115-103 on Friday night for their fifth straight win.
The Nuggets gained sole possession of first in the Western Conference over the idle Memphis Grizzlies despite the absence of Nikola Jokic. He missed the game because of right wrist management.
The Nuggets defeated the Clippers for the second time in a week, although this one was much closer than the 31-point beatdown they handed out at Ball Arena.
At least until the fourth quarter. That’s when the Nuggets pulled away, stretching a three-point lead into double digits. They scored nine in a row to go up 104-92, their largest lead of the game. Aaron Gordon hit a 3-pointer and Bruce Brown added four points. Gordon finished with 17 points.
Kawhi Leonard scored 24 points for the Clippers. He didn’t have running mate Paul George, who sat out with a hamstring injury. Norman Powell added 18 points off the bench and John Wall had 16. They’ve dropped seven of eight.
Murray crashed into a woman sitting courtside while chasing the ball in the fourth. She emerged laughing and he grabbed her hand to make sure she wasn’t hurt. He finished with eight rebounds and four assists.
Denver’s Zeke Nnaji got posterized twice – first by Leonard on a one-handed jam in the third and then by Wall on a dunk in the fourth. Both drew raucous cheers.
Trailing by five, the Nuggets outscored the Clippers 20-8, including nine in a row, to lead 81-74 in the third. Former Clipper DeAndre Jordan and Porter dunked and Gordon hit a 3-pointer.
Robert Covington hit a 3-pointer and Wall made a pair of free throws to leave the Clippers trailing 86-81 going into the fourth.
The Clippers controlled the first half when they led by seven.
Nuggets: Coach Michael Malone said he’s hoping Jokic’s wrist calms down so he can play Sunday. … Improved to 3-0 over LA this season.
Clippers: Their bench outscored Denver’s reserves, 46-30. … Luke Kennard (right calf soreness) sat out his third straight game. … Fell to .500 at 22-22. … Have dropped five straight to the Nuggets.
Nuggets: Host Orlando on Sunday to open a five-game homestand.
Clippers: Host Houston on Sunday.