George, Clippers beat Nuggets 102-100 despite Jokic's triple-double.

The Los Angeles Clippers rallied from a 17-point first-quarter deficit to defeat the Denver Nuggets 102-100 on Thursday night, thanks to 28 points from Paul George and 20 from James Harden.  

Kawhi Leonard missed his second consecutive game due to a painful right knee, but it didn't stop the Clippers from ending a five-game losing streak at home. As a whole, Harden felt it was a successful victory for his team. In the first quarter, we were down but controlled ourselves; in the second quarter, we scored a few goals. We defended by locking in.  

Denver was led by Nikola Jokic, who had 36 points, 17 rebounds, and 10 assists—his 24th triple-double of the season—but he missed a game-winning 3-pointer with seconds left. Then, Aaron Gordon scored 18 more.  

As of that point, Denver had won six of eight games. Even if Kawhi didn't play, they still have plenty of players who can suit up in a variety of roles. "That's the secret to their success," Jokic remarked. At the 7:54 mark of the game's final minute, Nuggets coach Michael Malone was shown the exit ticket. After stepping onto the court to dispute with the referees, he received two technical fouls.

As the fourth quarter began, the Clippers had a 75-70 edge. Their lead was widened to 90-79 when they converted 9 out of 10 free throws. After George and Jokic returned to the court for the Clippers, the Nuggets scored 18 points to put themselves ahead of the Clippers, 98-97.

Jokic sank a 3-pointer to cut the Clippers' lead to 102-100, but Ivica Zubac made four consecutive free throws. The Nuggets opted to call a timeout with five seconds remaining after Harden failed to make a jump shot. Jokic was defended by P.J. Tucker and his last-second 3-pointer was unsuccessful.

"In those situations, it's really hard, especially because I think the ball was in the worst possible spot," Jokic remarked. "You win some times and you lose other times." To start the third quarter and grab their biggest lead of the game, 70-57, the Clippers outscored the Nuggets 17-8, with nine points from George leading the way. During that time, Jokic managed just four points.  

The Clippers' bench scored 21 points in the first half, allowing them to get back into the game after falling behind Denver. Harden shot 0 for 5 to begin the half, but he finished with 14 points, including a 3-pointer, to give the Clippers a 53-49 advantage.  

In the first quarter, the Nuggets jumped out to a 17-point advantage. Before scoring for the first time at 5:18 of the first, Jokic assisted on baskets made by his teammates. Due to discomfort in his right knee, Denver's Jamal Murray did not participate.  

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