LOS ANGELES — Will Barton aggressively called for the ball in the left corner about midway through the third quarter, hollering at Jamal Murray while jumping up and down.
A couple seconds later, the ball finally found Barton on the wing. And his fourth 3-pointer of the afternoon barely rippled the Staples Center net and extended Denver’s comfortable lead.
The Nuggets’ late-season surge continued Saturday afternoon in Los Angeles — a fifth-consecutive win without the down-the-stretch drama of the previous four. Denver controlled the Clippers throughout in a 134-115 win, which eliminated Los Angeles from playoff contention and kept Denver in the hunt for a postseason spot.
The Nuggets’ victory moved them back into a tie for eighth place with Minnesota, which topped the Lakers on Friday night and was off Saturday. But plenty more shifting could take place later Saturday, with seventh-place Oklahoma City visiting Houston, sixth-place San Antonio hosting Portland and fifth-place New Orleans visiting Golden State.
Denver’s final two regular-season games are Monday against Portland and Wednesday at Minnesota.
Denver’s longest winning streak of the season took shape when it built a 19-point third-quarter lead. But unlike a late-February collapse against the Clippers in Denver, the Nuggets maintained their double-digit lead throughout the final period, extending it to 20 points late when Nikola Jokic sank a jumper to make the score 131-111 with 2:02 to play.
Denver shot 62.4 from the floor, recorded 36 assists and turned the ball over just eight times.
Jokic compiled his ninth triple-double of the season with 23 points (9-of-14 shooting), 11 rebounds and 11 assists less than 48 hours after an uncharacteristic 6-of-20 outing from the floor in Thursday’s win against Minnesota. Barton added a team-high 31 points (his second-highest total of the season) on 11-of-15 shooting, including a 5-of-9 mark from long range.
The Clippers’ DeAndre Jordan compiled a double-double in the first half and finished with 16 points and 17 rebounds. NBA sixth man of the year front-runner Lou Williams added 24 points and five assists. Reserve big man Boban Marjanovic, who keyed the Clippers’ late-February rally in Denver, had nine points and eight rebounds in 10 minutes.
The Nuggets led by as many as 13 points while shooting 62.8 percent in the first half. The Clippers used a 16-7 run to slice that advantage to 58-54 on an Austin Rivers driving layup, but Denver scored eight of the final 12 points of the period to lead 66-58 at the break.
The last time Denver faced the Clippers at Staples Center, Barton lost the ball out of bounds with his team down two points in the final seconds.
After his team blew that 19-point lead at home, the Nuggets’ best talker was lost for words for the first time all season.
But Barton’s performance helped deliver a knockout blow to the Clippers while keeping his team’s playoff hopes alive.