GAMEDAY REPORT: CLIPPERS VS. NUGGETS - 12/21/13
Game #28 | December 21, 2013
Staples Center | Los Angeles, CA
LOS ANGELES – It didn’t take long for the Clippers to grasp control of Saturday’s game against the Nuggets at Staples Center.
Two minutes, 17 seconds to be exact.
The Clippers scored 11 of the first 13 points of the game, capped by an alley-oop from Chris Paul to DeAndre Jordan, setting up a 112-91 victory, their fourth lopsided win in a row.
Paul had 10 points, 11 assists and three steals, for his 21st double-double. Blake Griffin scored 24 points with 16 rebounds and four assists. And Jamal Crawford added a game-high 27 points on 11-for-20 shooting (6-for-12 from 3-point range) in his fourth consecutive start.
“I think for us, whenever we set the tone in the first quarter it kind of carries us, especially against a team that just played last night,” Crawford said.
The Clippers (19-9) are 7-0 at home when leading after the first quarter, and on Saturday it was more of a bludgeoning in the opening minutes. Crawford scored six points in 51 seconds, Paul knocked down a long jumper and Jordan threw down the aforementioned alley-oop from Paul after grabbing a defensive rebound and sprinting up the floor.
Denver (14-12), playing the second game in as many nights, made just 28 percent of their shots in the first period and never led. The Nuggets, who got 19 points on 8-for-15 shooting from Wilson Chandler, finished 35.2 percent from the field. Outside of Chandler’s effort, they got just 23 made baskets out of the rest of their roster.
“Obviously, we had 112 points, but your offense can fail you at times,” Clippers head coach Doc Rivers said. “Your defense can never fail you and I think our guys are starting to believe that and we’re starting to see that every night.”
The defense has been clicking of late for the Clippers. They have held three opponents in the last two weeks to worse than 40 percent shooting. During their 3-0 home stand, which concludes Sunday night against the Timberwolves, they have won by no less than 13 points, including two 20-plus point wins against the Spurs and Nuggets, both among the West’s top eight teams.
In a way, they have seemingly gotten their offense and defense in sync at the same time.
“I think it’s how the pace was, just keep attacking, keep pressing,” Jared Dudley said. We got to the free throw line a lot. Blake was phenomenal, D.J. getting rebounds. I just think once we get stops, we can get out and run.”
Still, the Clippers were nine seconds away from heading into halftime up just nine points, despite stifling the Nuggets and leading by as many as 17 at one point. But Griffin finished a tough running layup over Timofey Mozgov with 1.9 seconds to go and Matt Barnes tipped away Denver’s inbounds pass that was retrieved by Darren Collison and in one motion flung in from 22 feet.
The miraculous shot made it 56-43, and swiped away any of Denver’s momentum.
Collison finished with 13 points off the bench and Barnes, playing for the first time since Nov. 18, added 13 points with three rebounds, three assists and three blocks in 21 minutes.
Jordan had 12 rebounds and three of the Clippers’ eight blocked shots in 32 minutes… Dudley has made 13 3-pointers in the last four games combined… The Clippers were 13-of-33 from 3-point range overall… Denver lost forward Kenneth Faried to a left ankle injury with 8:45 left in the first quarter… Griffin is 62-of-83 (74.7 percent) from the foul line since Dec. 1 (11 games)… The Nuggets have lost three games in a row… Collison has scored 10 or more points during the home stand… In each of the last three seasons, the Clippers have been 19-9 or better after 28 games. They were a franchise-best 22-6 last season…
|Clippers guard Chris Paul on the team’s energy to start:
“We said we didn’t feel like we had the right energy or played with the right spirit against New Orleans the other night, and we have a back to back tonight and tomorrow night, so we wanted to come out and try to put them away, and I think we did that.”
|Clippers forward Matt Barnes on playing with protective goggles:
“I didn’t like them. I got elbowed though, and the goggles gave me a bruise. So I can’t stop getting injured. But it’s alright. I mean, whatever it takes for me to play. I don’t really see myself wearing them for too long, so hopefully the doctor agrees with me so I can get those things off.”
|Clippers guard Jamal Crawford on Blake Griffin’s dribbling display in the second quarter:
“That’s how he looked in the summer time when he came out to my Pro-Am. Blake has so many skills, I think the sky is the limit for him. He’s our hardest worker—he’s always there working on his game. He loves being able to show you guys that because he works at it, and it was fun to watch.”
|Clippers head coach Doc Rivers on his team’s defense:
“What I like the most was the transition defense; I think that they had nine points in transitions. That is what they do so well, they come down, spread the floor. They beat you to the basket; they get those trails three. And I thought we did a great job taking that away and making them run their half court, which was great for us.”
|Nuggets guard Ty Lawson on the Clippers:
“They came out with a lot of energy. All the plays they were running strong. It was hard to defend especially how hard they were running the plays. They were getting easy shots and they just played harder than us.”
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CROWN ROYAL SHOT OF THE GAME
By: Ben Haber | Follow @HaberBen