The Los Angeles Clippers traded Reggie Jackson to the Charlotte Hornets in February for Mason Plumlee, and soon after that Jackson was waived. That opened up a chance for Jackson, a Colorado native, to sign with the Denver Nuggets, who went on to win the title last season.
With team leaders Nikola Jokic, Jamal Murray and Aaron Gordon missing in action due to injury, Jackson took it upon himself to punish the team that he spent three and a half seasons with in a memorable performance in front of the LA crowd.
Jackson dropped 35 points, five rebounds, 13 assists and two steals while hitting 15 of 19 field goal attempts and 3 of 4 three-pointers. He led a stunning 20-point turnaround as the Nuggets came back from down 11 to win 113-104. Jackson almost outscored the Clippers by himself in the fourth quarter as well after pouring in 13 points compared to the opposing team’s 16.
DeAndre Jordan, who enjoyed his best years as a player with the Clippers, also had a bit of a throwback game. He had 21 points, 13 rebounds, five assists, two steals and a block against the team that drafted him with the 35th overall pick. His pick and roll attack with Jackson continuously broke down the Clippers’ defense and reminded you of his lob city days with Chris Paul.
The victory was an important one for the Nuggets and showed off their depth and good coaching. It was a hell of an entertaining second half and it gave them their second win in a row. Every win without your stars matters in the Western Conference, where the first and tenth seeds are separated by just 4.5 games.
In contrast, it was an embarrassing loss for the star-studded Clippers, who have now fallen to 7-9 for the season and sit with the eleventh seed. Kawhi Leonard had 31 points, eight rebounds, three assists, a steal and two blocks. He was matched by Ivica Zubac’s 23 points and 14 rebounds, but Paul George and James Harden combined for 17 points on 5 of 20 shooting.
The Clippers have plenty of season left to play, but they need to start stepping up. They’re now 4-7 since Harden started suiting up, and he said he needed about ten games to figure things out. It’s worth nothing that they’ve gone 4-2 in their last six games, but the loss to the Nuggets will sting for a while.