Denver Nuggets cruise past Los Angeles Clippers

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.

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