EditorsNote: revises last graf to reflect last time Beverley played
Sep 3, 2020; Lake Buena Vista, Florida, USA; LA Clippers forward Kawhi Leonard (2) dribbles the ball against Denver Nuggets guard Jamal Murray (27) during the first half in game one of the second round of the 2020 NBA Playoffs at AdventHealth Arena. Mandatory Credit: Kim Klement-USA TODAY Sports
Kawhi Leonard scored 29 points, and the Los Angeles Clippers rolled past the Denver Nuggets 120-97 in Game 1 of the Western Conference semifinals on Thursday at the NBA bubble near Orlando.
Leonard connected on 12 of 16 shots from the floor in 32 minutes, sitting out the fourth quarter. Although his streak of five consecutive games with 32 or more points ended, Leonard has scored at least 29 points in each of the Clippers’ seven playoff games.
He is averaging 32.3 points per game in the postseason.
Paul George contributed 19 points and seven rebounds and Marcus Morris Sr. added 18 points, converting 7 of 10 shots and 4 of 5 3-point attempts for the Clippers. Montrezl Harrell had 15 points and Lou Williams scored 10.
Denver’s Nikola Jokic had 15 points and Paul Millsap finished with 13 points, nine rebounds and three steals. Jamal Murray, Jerami Grant and Monte Morris chipped in 12 points apiece for the Nuggets, who had just one day off after clinching their seven-game series Tuesday against the Utah Jazz.
Game 2 in the second-round series is Saturday.
The Clippers, who led by as much as 29 points, took control in the second quarter and buried the Nuggets in the third quarter. The held a 91-67 lead heading into the final quarter.
After Monte Morris converted a pull-up jumper to tie the score at 36 less than three minutes into the second quarter, the Clippers used a 33-15 surge for a 69-51 advantage at the break. Los Angeles outscored Denver 38-20 in the second quarter. Leonard scored 19 first-half points.
The Clippers made 63.4 percent of their shots compared to 42.9 percent for the Nuggets in the first half. For the game, the Clippers hit 57.1 percent to 42.2 percent for the Nuggets.
Clippers guard Patrick Beverley returned to action after missing the previous five games with a strained calf. Beverley had eight points and six rebounds in 12 minutes.
—Field Level Media