Gordon knocks down game winner as Nuggets top Clippers in overtime

Jan 19, 2022; Denver, Colorado, USA; Denver Nuggets forward Aaron Gordon (50) shoots the ball as Los Angeles Clippers guard Brandon Boston Jr. (4) defends in overtime at Ball Arena. Mandatory Credit: Isaiah J. Downing-USA TODAY Sports

The Denver Nuggets came back from being down by 15 points to force an overtime thriller and beat the Los Angeles Clippers 130-128 on a 3-pointer from Aaron Gordon.

“I’m thinking it’s about to go in,” Gordon said. “I’m trying to make this. If he’s about to pass it to me, I’m going to make this.”

With 5.2 seconds left in overtime, they were trying to clear out a shot for Nikola Jokic and Will Barton to play a two-man game. The Clippers denied Will the ball and double teamed Jokic. That’s when Jokic found Gordon wide open in the corner so he hit him with a perfect pass.

“I knew the ball was going to come to me,” Gordon said. “Jok makes the right play, makes the right pass even in pressure situations. That’s what he did. He put it on time on target. All I had to do was catch and shoot.”

After the shot went in, there was still 2.2 seconds on the clock but Davon Reed thought the game was over and ran out to mid-court to celebrate with Gordon. This resulted in a technical free throw for the Clippers. It didn’t change the outcome of the game.

“I’m like D-Reed what are you doing out here,” Gordon said. “I appreciate it, like he’s my boy forever. He was so excited for me making that. I didn’t know what he was doing on the floor.”

Gordon finished the game with 28 points while Jokic had another dominating game with 49 points, 14 rebounds, and 10 assists. Jokic was 16 of 25 from the field, 3 of 5 from beyond the arc and 14 of 16 from the free throw line.

Jokic never ceases to amaze with his shooting abilities but more importantly with the types of passes he’s able to make. During the postgame press conference, reporters mentioned the difficulty of his passes but to Jokic it’s just another game.

“I make those passes on a regular basis so I think it’s a normal pass,” Jokic said.

What’s even more impressive is that Jokic, who’s averaging 26 points, 14 rebounds and seven assists per game said that in Wednesday night’s game against the Clippers he brought a different level of aggression, which is something he doesn’t normally play with on a consistent basis. It was like a switch that just turned on mid-game to help him take over.

“It just happens,” Jokic said. “Maybe I was just a bit mad. Mad at myself. Maybe mad at the guys because we don’t play the right way and I just said I’m just going go try to score before they blow us out. Maybe I was selfish in that moment but I was just a little bit more aggressive.”

Denver was down by as much as 15 points in the third quarter until the 4:40 mark when Jokic hit a shot to tie it at 72. He turned it up a notch and finished with 17 points in the quarter alone and helped ignite a 14-1 run that got the Nuggets back into the game.

“Here’s a reigning MVP on a team with arguably your second and third best players out with injury for a long time and Nikola just says hey man we got more than enough lets just go out there and fight and compete,” head coach Michael Malone said. “Nikola Jokic cares. I think that’s a wonderful thing. He’s not just showing up to play the game. He cares about this team, his teammates, our fans, this city, this organization and for him to do it night in and night out… this guy is getting double and triple teamed every night and he had 49 tonight.”

Malone had a powerful animated message for his guys during the timeout at about the 10-minute mark of the third and that’s what got his team going. He started off by saying, “We are trying to get back into a game but we are not putting forth the effort!”

And the rest is not appropriate to put in writing but clearly it worked.

“Sometimes you got to do that,” Malone said. “I don’t think people realize when you’re a head coach you can’t be afraid to be an [expletive]. You can’t be afraid to jump guys when needed. You can’t do it everyday. It’s a long season but in that moment they [the Clippers] had literally scored four layups to start that third quarter and I challenged them, and our players responded and competed.”

The Nuggets had to work for every shot in the third quarter but every time they did the Clippers kept on attacking. Eric Bledsoe scored eight straight points to take an 81-79 lead but Gordon hit a step back jumper at the buzzer to tie it up at 81 a piece. Denver outscored Los Angeles 34-22 in the quarter and shot 52% from the field.

Denver opened the fourth quarter with five straight points to take an 86-81 lead with 11:10 left. The Clippers called a quick timeout and kept things interesting after. Brandon Boston, who scored eight of his 16 points in the quarter started hitting some big shots and then Reggie Jackson scored consecutive baskets to give the Clippers a 99-95 lead with 6:19 to go. He had 10 in the quarter. Then with under one minute left, Jokic tied it up at 112 but Jackson responded again with a bucket to take a 114-112 lead with 38 seconds left. Will Barton countered with an easy layup to tie the game again at 114. Jokic missed the game winning shot and forced an overtime.

Jokic continued taking over and scored 11 of Denver’s 16 points in overtime and with 1:11 left he hit back-to-back shots to take a 124-123 lead. Los Angeles wasn’t going away though and Ivica Zubac tipped one in to take a 125-124 lead but Jokic hit a shot and got the foul at the other end to take the lead 127-125. Zubac tipped one in again to tie it at 127 with 26 seconds left to go. And then the shot of the night, Gordon was left wide open for the corner three and drilled it. The Clippers were given a technical free throw after Reed ran out onto the corner before the game ended but it wasn’t enough to win it.

“So pleased,” Malone said. “Aaron put in so much time this summer, this offseason. He puts the time in now during the season. He’s just built a gym over by where he lives so he’s literally shooting the ball at night time, he’s waking up and going to the gym. That guy is a gym rat and for him to have the game winning three on an unbelievable pass from Nikola as he’s being double teamed you just feel happy for Aaron.”

The Nuggets have won three of their last four games and have two more home games before hitting the road for six straight. Their next game is against Memphis on Friday night. They are currently sixth in the Western Conference standings with a 23-20 record.

The Clippers just began their eight-game road trip with a tough overtime loss. Big man Zubac finished the night with 32 points and 10 rebounds while Reggie Jackson put up 28 points on 12-22 shooting and had 12 assists. Brandon Boston scored 16 off the bench and Bledsoe had 13.

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