DENVER (AP) — Nikola Jokic scored 19 points and the Denver Nuggets beat the short-handed Los Angeles Clippers 123-98 on Saturday night.
Danilo Gallinari, Will Barton and Wilson Chandler added 18 points apiece for the Nuggets, who have won four of their last five games.
The Clippers have lost two in a row since opening January with seven consecutive wins. They fell to 2-7 this season when they have been without both Chris Paul (thumb injury) and Blake Griffin (right knee).
Marreese Speights had 18 points to lead the Clippers. Austin Rivers added 16 points and DeAndre Jordan had 13 rebounds to go with his 14 points.
Denver, which never trailed, led by as many as 17 points in the first half and was up 59-45 at the break. Kenneth Faried had 11 of his 13 points in the first two quarters.
The Clippers cut it to 61-53 on a layup by Rivers early in the third quarter but the Nuggets outscored the Clippers 34-18 during the rest of the period. Gallinari capped the surge with a 3-pointer as the period ended, allowing the Nuggets to take a 95-71 lead into the fourth quarter.
Chandler then scored seven straight points for the Nuggets, including a 3-pointer as Denver stretched its lead to 29 points in the opening minutes of the final period to put the game out of reach.
Clippers: Paul is expected to be sidelined six to eight weeks because of the ligament tear in his left thumb, which he sustained earlier this week. … Griffin has missed 17 games since undergoing a procedure on his right knee but is getting close to a return. … The Clippers trailed by as many as 35 points.
Nuggets: G Gary Harris missed a second consecutive game because of an ankle injury. … Gallinari (ankle) and F Darrell Arthur (knee) were both back in action after missing the previous game against San Antonio. … Jokic, who also grabbed 10 rebounds, has had a double-double in 13 of his last 20 games.
Clippers: Continue a five-game road trip Monday at Atlanta.
Nuggets: Complete a back-to-back set Sunday at Minnesota.
Trier finished with 12 points in his first game this season after testing negative for a performance-enhancing drug.
The sophomore from Seattle has been practicing and traveling with the Wildcats all season, but the school had refused to say why he wasn’t playing. Trier said this week that he had inadvertently taken a substance with a trace amount of PED in it. He said the NCAA wouldn’t allow him to play until his system was completely cleared of the drug.
UCLA fans chanted “steroids” at him.