Denver Nuggets vs. Los Angeles Clippers Pick & Prediction JANUARY 13th 2023

Stadium: Staples Center Los Angeles
Logo Denver Nuggets
Logo Los Angeles Clippers

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Kawhi Leonard is displaying signs that he has regained his All-Star form and has put his serious knee injury behind him.

Leonard looks for his third straight strong performance and also aims to score 24 or more points for the eighth time in 12 appearances when the Los Angeles Clippers host the soaring Denver Nuggets on Friday night.

Leonard tore the ACL in his right knee in June 2021 and missed all of last season. He missed more time earlier this season due to flare-ups in the knee but has recently felt healthier and his performance is showing that.

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The two-time NBA Finals MVP scored 29 points during a 112-108 loss to the Atlanta Hawks on Sunday and followed up with a season-high 33 points and matched his season best of nine rebounds as Los Angeles posted a 113-101 home victory over the Dallas Mavericks on Tuesday.

The wire-to-wire triumph over the Mavericks halted a six-game slide for the Clippers.

Leonard, who played 36 minutes against the Mavericks, set the tone with 11 first-quarter points.

"I got in a rhythm, knocked down open shots, trusted in my teammates and we were able to pull it out," said Leonard, who was 9-of-12 from the field.

Leonard also has played 34 or more minutes in six of his last seven appearances. He was on the floor for a season-high 38 minutes against the Hawks.

Norman Powell added 27 points for Los Angeles against Dallas. The Clippers, who led by as many as 23 points, committed just 10 turnovers and held a 46-32 rebounding edge.

"I thought it was a good game for us with the way we competed and scrapped for 48 minutes," Los Angeles coach Tyronn Lue said. "And then Kawhi controlling the whole game and being very efficient with 33 points on 12 shots."

Paul George (hamstring) didn't play against Dallas and is expected to miss his fourth straight game. Luke Kennard (calf) could miss his third in a row.

The Nuggets, who are tied for first place in the Western Conference, trounced the Clippers 122-91 in Denver on Jan. 5. The Nuggets led 66-32 at halftime before finishing the shellacking.

Denver also delivered a one-sided victory on Wednesday when it steamrolled the Phoenix Suns 126-97.

Nikola Jokic recorded 21 points, 18 rebounds and nine assists and Bones Hyland also scored 21 for the Nuggets. Hyland was 5-of-7 from 3-point range.

"I was really just feeling it," Hyland said. "The basket felt like it was really wide. It was like shooting a rock into the ocean."

The victory was the fourth in a row for the Nuggets, all at home. Denver averaged 122.8 points during the homestand.

Overall, the Nuggets have won 14 of their past 17.

Denver guard Jamal Murray (left ankle) limped off the court in the fourth quarter against Phoenix, but coach Michael Malone was encouraged with the trainer's report. Murray is listed as probable for Friday's game.

"He just rolled his ankle a little bit and I was actually happy to hear that it wasn't his knee," Malone said, referring to Murray's surgically repaired left knee. "It's just his ankle and he said he's fine and it wasn't anything too bad."

Jokic (wrist) is listed as questionable but has been regularly playing through the soreness. The two-time reigning MVP is averaging 24.9 points, 11 rebounds and 9.7 assists this season.

The Nuggets are 2-0 against the Clippers this season and have won seven of the past eight meetings.

--Field Level Media

Denver Nuggets
Los Angeles Clippers

Denver Nuggets vs. Los Angeles Clippers Recap JAN 13TH 2023

Jamal Murray recorded 24 points and eight rebounds and the Denver Nuggets thrived despite the absence of Nikola Jokic to notch a 115-103 victory over the host Los Angeles Clippers on Friday night.

Michael Porter Jr. scored 22 points and Aaron Gordon added 17 for the Nuggets, who won their fifth straight game and earned their 15th victory in the past 18. Jokic, the two-time reigning NBA Most Valuable Player, sat out due to a wrist injury on a night when the Nuggets took over sole possession of first place in the Western Conference.

The victory was Denver's eighth in the past nine meetings with the Clippers.

Kawhi Leonard registered 24 points and eight rebounds but couldn't prevent Los Angeles from losing for the seventh time in the past eight games. Norman Powell had 18 points, and Marcus Morris Sr. and John Wall each scored 16.

The Clippers were without Paul George (hamstring) for the fourth straight game and Luke Kennard (calf) for the third game in a row.

Kentavious Caldwell-Pope scored 14 points for Denver, which shot 50 percent from the field and was 14 of 33 (42.4 percent) from 3-point range.

The Clippers hit on 47.1 percent of their shots, including 10 of 29 (34.5 percent) from behind the arc. Los Angeles committed seven turnovers in the fourth quarter after having just five entering the stanza.

Los Angeles trailed by two with 7:55 left in the fourth quarter before Denver went on a 10-0 run that included a 3-pointer from Murray, a three-point play from Bruce Brown and a trey from Gordon. Brown split two free throws with 5:34 remaining to cap the surge as the Nuggets took a 104-92 lead.

Terance Mann drained a 3-pointer to pull the Clippers within 110-103 with 1:41 left. However, Porter hit two free throws with 1:18 to go and Caldwell-Pope drilled a trey with 16.6 seconds remaining to seal it.

Leonard scored 14 first-half points and the Clippers led 58-57 at the break. Porter had 14 in the half for Denver.

The Nuggets rattled off nine straight points to take a 70-66 lead on Gordon's 3-pointer with 6:47 left in the third quarter. Denver led by seven late in the period before Wall made two free throws with 10 seconds remaining, slicing the Clippers' deficit to 86-81 entering the final stanza.

--Field Level Media