Nikola Jokic had 32 points, 16 rebounds and nine assists, and the Denver Nuggets beat Los Angeles 111-108 in an NBA In-Season Tournament game on Tuesday night, as the Clippers remained winless since acquiring James Harden last month.
Jokic was perfect on 14 free throw attempts, including two with 13 seconds left that helped the Nuggets hold off the Clippers’ comeback try.
Los Angeles has lost five straight with Harden, who was acquired on Oct. 30, and six in a row overall despite the 34-year-old guard’s best game with his new team since arriving from Philadelphia.
Harden scored 21 points and Paul George tied a season high with 35 points as Los Angeles fell to 0-2 in West Group B play.
Aaron Gordon scored 20 points and Reggie Jackson 18 for Denver, which has won both of its games in the West B bracket.
The Nuggets were without point guard Jamal Murray for the fourth straight game. He is expected to miss the rest of the month with his strained right hamstring.
Denver appeared to have sealed the game when Jokic fed Gordon for a dunk and a 109-104 lead with 50 seconds left. Jackson missed two free throws with 32 seconds left, Kawhi Leonard hit two from the line and then came up with his fifth steal, which led to George’s layup with 15 seconds left.
After Jokic’s free throws, George’s 3-point attempt wedged between the rim and backboard. The Nuggets won the jump ball and held on as time expired.
Harden got aggressive at the end of third, going around Jalen Pickett for a layup, hitting two free throws and draining a 3-pointer with 4.7 seconds left in the period to give the Clippers an 84-81 lead. Gordon hit 31-footer at the horn to tie it heading into the fourth.
Los Angeles took a 99-92 lead on Leonard’s fadeaway midway through the fourth.
Clippers: Host the Houston Rockets on Friday night in their third tournament game.
Nuggets: At the New Orleans Pelicans on Friday night for their first road game of the tournament.
Reporting by The Associated Press.
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