LAKE BUENA VISTA, Fla. — Kawhi Leonard scored 29 points and the Los Angeles Clippers rolled past the Denver Nuggets 120-97 on Thursday night (Friday, Manila time) in Game One of the Western Conference semifinals.
Paul George scored 19 points and Marcus Morris added 18. The Clippers shot 57% from the field.
Nikola Jokic scored 15 points for the Nuggets, who were coming off a seven-game series with Utah that just ended Tuesday. Jamal Murray, who averaged 31.6 points in the first round and scored at least 50 points twice in that series, finished with just 12 points on 5-for-15 shooting. Denver shot just 42%.
The Clippers took charge in the second quarter, outscoring the Nuggets 38-20 to take a 69-51 lead at halftime. Los Angeles held Denver to 25% shooting into the second quarter.
The Clippers continued to dominate in the third quarter, holding the Nuggets to 16 points in the period and taking a 91-67 lead into the fourth. Los Angeles’ biggest lead in the quarter was 29 points.
Kawhi Leonard tries to get past Nikola Jokic as Jamal Murray looks on.
Nuggets: G Gary Harris returned to the starting lineup. He played limited minutes the past two games after having been out since March with a strained right hip. He finished with five points. ... F Jerami Grant scored 11 points on 4-for-4 shooting in the first quarter but scored one point the rest of the game.
Clippers: G Patrick Beverley, who had missed the previous five games with a left calf strain, started. He scored eight points. ... Leonard has 15 consecutive playoff games with at least 20 points.
Game 2 is Saturday.