The Denver Nuggets are the team that will be playing the second game of a back-to-back set, but it might be the Los Angeles Clippers who feel more fatigued, despite having an off day Saturday.
That's because Los Angeles played in the second-highest-scoring game in NBA history on Friday night, a 176-175 loss to the Kings. It took two overtimes before Sacramento outlasted the Clippers, who now play at Denver on Sunday night.
The Nuggets had their four-game winning streak snapped in a 112-94 loss at Memphis on Saturday night in a game that wasn't competitive for most of the night.
Sunday will be the fourth and final regular-season meeting between the Clippers and Nuggets and the last chance Los Angeles has to get a win over the top team in the Western Conference. It also marks the return of Bones Hyland, the Nuggets' No. 1 draft pick in 2021 who was dealt to the Clippers for two second-round picks at the trade deadline earlier this month.
Hyland was Denver's backup point guard but had lost his spot in the rotation in late January, and his situation hasn't improved with Los Angeles. He played in the first two games with his new team but didn't get into Friday's game, which was Russell Westbrook's first with the Clippers after he was signed earlier in the week.
Apple MacBook Air Laptop
The M1 chip delivers 3.5x faster performance than the previous generation all while using way less power. Get up to 18 hours of battery life.
Westbrook had 17 points and 14 assists in his debut Friday but also had seven turnovers before fouling out.
"Just trying to find ways to be effective while I'm on the floor," Westbrook said. "And whatever is asked of me, screening, whatever, rolling, handling, whatever that may be. Cutting. Just try to do different things to impact the game and using my IQ to be able to make plays for others."
Sunday also will be Reggie Jackson's first game against his former team. Los Angeles traded Jackson to Charlotte at the deadline, and after the Hornets bought out his contract, he signed with the Nuggets. Saturday's game was Jackson's second with his hometown team.
Jackson scored seven points in his debut, including a heave from beyond the halfcourt at the end of the third quarter in a 115-109 win at Cleveland on Thursday. He is an experienced point guard who has multiple playoff appearances to draw from, which is a big reason Denver added him to the roster.
"You just want to play well," Jackson said recently. "They brought me here for a reason. Part of me is like, ‘I don't want to mess it up. Let's keep it rolling.'"
The Nuggets have kept winning despite dealing with some injuries. Jamal Murray missed six games with right knee inflammation before returning on Thursday at Cleveland. He scored eight points in 25 minutes in the loss to the Grizzlies.
A concern for Denver is the health of Aaron Gordon. He has missed five straight games with a left rib injury and likely won't play against the Clippers. Coach Michael Malone said after Saturday night's loss that there is no definitive timetable on his return. Malone said he would consult with the team trainers on Sunday to determine Gordon's availability.
--Field Level Media