On Sep. 9, 2020, the Los Angeles Clippers defeated the Denver Nuggets 96-85 to build a 3-1 lead over the upstart No. 3 seed in their second-round playoff series. Ever since that moment, the Nuggets have owned the Clippers to a laughable degree. They've played 14 games in that span. The Nuggets have won 12 of them. On Sunday, Denver picked up its sixth straight victory over the Clippers, but this was perhaps the most heartbreaking one yet for their wayward rivals.
Denver led by as many as 18 points in the first half and controlled the game most of the way. The Clippers trimmed that lead throughout the second half, though, and by the fourth quarter, the game had devolved into a duel between Kawhi Leonard, who scored 33 points on 12-of-19 shooting, and Nikola Jokic, who had a 40-point triple-double. Those two combined for 12 straight points between the 2:59 and 1:30 marks of the fourth quarter to produce a 117-117 score. Three Clippers free throws and one Michael Porter Jr. 3-pointer maintained that tie, giving the Nuggets one final possession to win the game.
After a stellar defensive possession by the Clippers, Bruce Brown hoisted an ugly 3-pointer and missed. Paul George collected the rebound with 2.2 seconds remaining and threw up a full-court prayer. It connected, but came after the final buzzer, sending the game to overtime rather than handing the Clippers a victory.
The shot was the second near-miss at the final buzzer of the weekend. Philadelphia 76ers star Joel Embiid hit a similar look that would've tied Saturday's battle against the Boston Celtics, but sadly also came after the buzzer. George's team at least had a chance to win in overtime, whereas the Nuggets made short work of the Clippers on Sunday, winning the OT period 14-4.
The Clippers have now played two games since signing Russell Westbrook off of the buyout market. Both have been overtime losses, and in the two games combined, the Clippers have allowed 310 total points. Unlike Friday's loss to the Kings, Westbrook did not play in the fourth quarter or overtime of Sunday's loss. He finished the game with 17 points on 6-of-10 shooting.
If the Clippers thought Westbrook would be their missing piece against the Nuggets, though, it seems they were mistaken. Ty Lue's team has tried just about everything to thwart the two-time MVP and his No. 1-seeded Nuggets, but have thus far come up with nothing. They'll need to figure something out if they plan to escape the Western Conference in the postseason, but if tonight was any indication, they can't even rely on miracle shots to save them against Denver.