The Denver Nuggets fell 113-107 to the Los Angeles Clippers to go down 3-1 in the Western Conference Semifinals on Monday evening.
After the game, multiple players spoke about it being a game that got away from them as the Nuggets truly felt as if they should have won Game 3 to take a series lead of their own.
In Game 4, while the Nuggets did not play with a lead as they did in their previous game, there were still opportunities for Denver to win it.
Denver did not come out with the same intensity, nor did they take care of the ball, and that led to the Nuggets falling 96-85 to the Clippers.
The Nuggets look at another daunting task as they fall 3-1 to the Clippers in the series, and with that, I give you the good, bad and ugly.
Good – Michael Porter Jr. hot start
With much of the offensive focus on Nikola Jokic and Jamal Murray, Denver needed a third offensive option to step up and give them a spark.
Michael Porter Jr. offered that, and then some, as the rookie had himself his best offensive quarter of the series.
Denver got off to a horrendous start to the game and trailed by as many as 18 points, searching for answers on how to would turn it around.
Their No. 14 pick in the 2018 draft gave the Nuggets some life and back within striking distance.
He's 6'10" and doing this. pic.twitter.com/7Qmi2yrHEw
— Denver Nuggets (@nuggets) September 10, 2020
Porter Jr. had 13 points in the second frame alone and provided life for Denver to make it a game.
The rookie was aggressive in the half as he finished with 15, the offense went through him, and he did not turn down open looks, which helped Denver cut into the lead.
Porter Jr. allowed the Nuggets to get within single-digits heading into the halftime intermission, and it looked like it was going to be one of those games for the rookie.
However, Porter Jr. only took two shots in the second half despite playing for the entire fourth quarter.
He could not find a rhythm and let off some of those frustrations after the game stating that for Denver to beat a team as good as the Clippers, then they are going to have to get more players involved.
If the Nuggets continued to feed their rookie, there is no telling how the game could have ended up.
Malone and the rest of the starters have to find a way to continue to feed the hot hand.
Bad – Rough opening quarter
It was difficult for national viewers to see the beginning of the game because the Boston Celtics and Toronto Raptors series went into double-overtime. But, with how the Nuggets began the game, it is probably best that the Nuggets fans missed that portion anyway.
Denver began the loss with unforced turnovers, plenty of misses on open looks, and looked all out of sorts. That forced them to have to play catchup for the entire game.
The Nuggets were bottled up early on and played right into the Clippers’ hands as Los Angeles got out on misses and turnovers and ran with it.
— LA Clippers (@LAClippers) September 10, 2020
Denver was only able to muster up 12 points in the first quarter as they had a horrid shooting start to begin the game.
And they shot a mere 29% from the field, going a whopping 0-8 from beyond the arc at the end of the opening frame.
The Nuggets settled for 3-pointers, despite not hitting any, and they did not come out with a sense of urgency, which only fueled the Clippers defense to lock in later in the game.
Jokic was the only player that could get anything going for himself in the opening quarter.
The All-Star big man had eight points and two boards in the first quarter, and that led to Denver having their lowest-scoring quarter of the series.
In the second quarter, the Nuggets started to come to life as they pushed into the significant deficit that they were in and got back into the game as they leaned on their promising rookie to get them going.
Porter Jr. and the rest of the starters were able to go into the half down 48-40 as they fought back to make it a game, but the early lead proved to be a bit too much and is why they find themselves on the losing end of another 3-1 series lead.
Ugly – Clippers blanket Jamal Murray
Los Angeles watched the Nuggets first-round series against the Utah Jazz and came up with the decision of it being anybody but Murray that would beat them.
So far, the Clippers have done a great job of limiting the Nuggets leading scorer in the bubble as they continue to give him different looks and make it incredibly difficult to get himself going.
After the Nuggets Game 3 loss, Murray placed the blame on himself on why the Nuggets did not secure the victory.
Murray felt as if he could have done more on the offensive end as he finished with only 14 points in the game.
Murray shot 5-of-17 from the field, and only 2-of-7 from beyond the arc as the Clippers did everything in their power to slow him down, and he stated after the game that he would have to come out and be a bit more aggressive.
Denver’s point guard did everything that he could to shake free of the Clippers stifling defense in Game 4, but Los Angeles seems to be too committed to not allowing him to get in a flow.
He could not get himself going offensively, and he did everything in his power to make it happen.
— LA Clippers (@LAClippers) September 10, 2020
Murray made plays for others, moved without the ball, and tried to find gaps in the defense with Los Angeles sending bodies and double teams his way.
He finished with 18 points in the game but still struggled to wiggle free as the Clippers succeeded on slowing him down again.
Murray went 6-of-15 from the field, and the Clippers went all out on throwing a wrench in the game plan.
The Clippers are one of the best defensive teams in the league with multiple All-defensive players on their squad. When a team is defending with that kind of intensity with interchangeable defenders as they had, it is going to be difficult for any guard to find any type of rhythm.
Los Angeles had a game plan and executed it.