It could have been easier. Perhaps it should’ve been easier, but the Denver Nuggets rode a raucous Ball Arena crowd – and two-time MVP Nikola Jokic’s 40-point, 17-rebound, 10-assist triple-double – to victory on the second night of a back-to-back over a rested Los Angeles Clippers team that appeared ready for the challenge after a wobbly start.

The Nuggets leapt out to a 20-4 lead in the game’s opening frame, as Jokic and his teammates seemed determined to wash the taste of Saturday’s underwhelming performance in a loss to the Memphis Grizzlies. The Clippers, however, behind the finally healthy pair of Kawhi Leonard and Paul George, wouldn’t let their squad throw in the towel.

Denver kept the pressure on, leading by 13 points after one quarter, by eight at half, and by seven after three, but Leonard and George – with more than a little help from former Nugget Mason Plumlee, exploded in the fourth quarter, eventually wresting the lead from Denver’s hands as the game neared the end of regulation. Nuggets forward Aaron Gordon, who was a surprising addition to the starting lineup after missing the last five games with a rib injury. “It all comes down to, with that injury, his comfort level,” coach Michael Malone said before the game. Gordon, had six points, six assists and six rebounds in his 29 minutes Sunday, but it was Gordon’s other six – fouls – that changed the game’s trajectory. Without Gordon’s defense, Leonard went off for 33 points on 12-of-19 shooting; more than half of those in the game’s fourth quarter.

The Nuggets needed to find heroes in other places, and late in the game, with the Nuggets trailing by one with only 26.6 seconds left, Michael Porter Jr. hit one of his four three-pointers on the night, ensuring overtime when George made a pair of free throws – after a failed coach’s challenge by Malone to avoid a foul from Kentavious Caldwell-Pope – to send the game at overtime, tied at 120 points each. Porter, who finished with 29 points on 12-of-18 shooting to go along with 11 rebounds, hit another trey to give the Nuggets the extra period’s first seven points. With a seven-point, overtime lead in hand, it was time for Jokic to go to work. “The Joker” scored the Nuggets’ next five points and added his 10th assist; a flip to Bruce Brown for an easy dunk that provided the final, 134-124 result.

That triple-double was the 23rd of the season for Jokic and the 14th in his last 19 games. Denver improved to 23-0 when Jokic – who is averaging a triple-double on the season – reaches that statistical benchmark.

Jamal Murray added 21 points and 12 assists as the Nuggets took advantage of the absence of Clippers center Ivica Zubac (calf) sat Sunday’s game out; Denver shot a scorching 63.2 percent from inside the arc on Sunday.

With the win, the Nuggets swept the season series with the Clippers 4-0, with each of the four wins coming by double-digits. Denver has won five of their last six games and moved to a league-best 28-4 at home. They head to Houston for their next game, however, where they’ll take on the NBA’s worst team in the Rockets (13-47, .217) on Tuesday. Denver not only leads the Western Conference, but as winners of seven of their last 10 games, they’re also the conference’s hottest club, and have built their lead to 5.5 games over Memphis.