They nearly wasted an early lead, but the Los Angeles Clippers are now just a single win away from reaching the Western Conference Finals.
The Clippers, after holding Denver to just 12 points in the opening quarter, beat the Nuggets 96-85 in Game 4 of their Western Conference semifinals series on Wednesday night at Walt Disney World.
They now hold a 3-1 series lead, and are on the cusp of reaching the conference finals for the first time in franchise history.
“Nothing,” Clippers coach Doc Rivers said about the reaction in the locker room after the win knowing what’s ahead, via Fox Sports West. “That’s not our goal. I don’t even think no one cares, to be honest. It was a zero reaction. We haven’t done anything yet.”
Clippers hold on after letting lead slip
The Clippers got out to an 18-point lead early on Wednesday, thanks largely to a slow offensive start from Denver.
The Nuggets scored just five points in the first six minutes of the first quarter, and struggled to get their offense going at all. They shot just 5-of-17 from the field as a team in the first 12 minutes, and seemed out of the game before it could even get going.
Denver closed out the first half on a 10-3 run to narrow the gap, however, and then opened the second half on a quick 8-0 burst to tie up the game. The Clippers were called for a mind-boggling seven fouls in the first 3:30 of the third quarter, too, something that helped the Nuggets’ comeback immensely.
That, though, was as close as they could get to taking the lead.
The Clippers pushed their lead back to double-digits by the end of the quarter and survived Denver’s last late push to grab the 11-point win.
“We got great shots tonight, we just couldn’t make shots — and I’m sure they’re probably feeling the same way,” Rivers said, via Fox Sports West. “But instead of worrying about the shots we weren’t making, we just kept playing defense. That allowed us to win the game.”
Kawhi Leonard led the Clippers with a near-triple-double in the win. He dropped 30 points while grabbing 11 rebounds and nine assists. Montrezl Harrell added 15 points off the bench, and Lou Williams finished with 12.
“It’s always good if you can make it to the next round, but we’ve got a lot of work to do still,” Leonard said, via Fox Sports San Diego. “The Denver team does not quit. They’ve got a good group over there, a good coach. So we’re still fighting.”
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