Two games in, two rivals down.
The Los Angeles Clippers spent the opening week of the NBA season knocking off the Los Angeles Lakers on Tuesday night, before earning a Christmas victory over their newest foe, the Denver Nuggets, on Friday.
Here are the key takeaways from the final game on Christmas Day.
1. The Paul George Revenge Tour
Last time we saw Paul George taking on the Nuggets, he was – for lack of a better term – bad.
On Sept. 15, in Game 7 of the Western Conference semifinals, he shot 4-for-16 from the field, including 2-for-11 from three.
He finished that night with 10 points, four rebounds, two assists and five turnovers.
Friday, he was not that version of Paul George.
PG-13 registered 23 points (on 57.1 percent shooting), nine assists and five rebounds in Friday’s win, and in two games this season, he’s leading the Clippers in scoring at 28.0 points per game.
2. Denver’s new trio
At the conclusion of the 2019-20 season, Jamal Murray and Nikola Jokic showed the NBA world that another All-Star level tandem was on the rise.
And now, Denver is attempting to add another star to the mix.
In the Nuggets’ season-opener on Wednesday, Jokic put up a statline for the ages: 29 points, 15 rebounds, 14 assists and three blocks.
However, Denver fell at home in overtime to Sacramento, and in that game, Murray scored just nine points on 1-of-9 shooting.
Michael Porter Jr. served as Jokic’s co-star for the evening, tallying 24 points, five rebounds and three blocks.
But on Friday, the roles were reversed for Porter and Murray.
While Jokic finished the night with 24 points, 10 assists and nine rebounds, Murray finished with 23 points and five rebounds – while Porter Jr. scored just 10 points on 4-of-9 shooting.
Jokic is the team’s superstar, but Denver is going to have to figure out how to help its two co-stars exist – this season and into the future – if the Nuggets want to repeat the success they found last season.
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