Jamal Murray saw an opening, drove and lifted off, cocking his arm back for a monster dunk — only to run into Kawhi Leonard’s massive left hand.

More specifically, Murray and the ball were rejected by Leonard’s left middle finger with less than two minutes left in a six-point game. For much of Game 3, the LA Clippers floated around like a team waiting to turn things on. But when they had to make a defensive stand, Leonard and the Clippers stifled the Denver Nuggets to pull off a 113-107 win Monday and take a 2-1 lead in the best-of-seven Western Conference semifinals.

The Clippers’ defense was dominant when it had to be, punctuated by Leonard’s highlight block on Murray’s dunk attempt. Leonard needed every inch of his middle finger to finish the rejection and protect a 109-103 lead with 1:47 left.

“That’s an extra long middle finger,” Clippers guard Paul George said postgame. “Like, it kept growing or something. That’s Kawhi, man.”

Through the first seven games of the postseason, the Clippers grew accustomed to seeing Leonard dominate offensively, as he scored 29 or more points per game in that stretch. But Denver’s defense held Leonard to 13 points in Game 2 and 23 points in Game 3. Leonard impacted Game 3 in other areas, grabbing 14 rebounds and dishing six assists to go with one elite defensive block.

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