POSTGAME REPORT


(18-16)
95

(20-11)
103
Game #31
STAPLES Center | Los Angeles, CA
February 22, 2012 | 7:30 PM (PST)
TV: PRIME TICKET
RADIO: KFWB 980 AM
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TEAM 1 2 3 4 FINAL
27 27 25 16 95
27 25 28 23 103
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  • TUESDAY
  • FEBRUARY 28
  • LOS ANGELES, CA
  • CLIPPERS AVOID LETDOWN, HEAD INTO ALL-STAR BREAK ATOP DIVISION
    - Eric Patten @ericpatten
    LOS ANGELES–With a severely undermanned Nuggets team hanging around a little too long Wednesday, Blake Griffin and Chris Paul seemed to take it upon themselves to ensure the Clippers ended their brief two-game losing streak. “They’re All-Stars for a reason,” head coach Vinny Del Negro said.

    With help from center DeAndre Jordan, Griffin and Paul turned a tie game with 5:39 remaining into a 103-95 victory at Staples Center, sending the Clippers into the All-Star break in atop the Pacific Division.

    It’s the first time L.A. (20-11) has secured first place in their division at the midway point in the season in Clipper history.

    “We needed to get a win and get some momentum going into the All-Star break,” said Jordan, who had 10 points, three blocks, and 16 rebounds, including nine offensive boards, matching a career high. “We knew we had to get a win for our team. The last time they were here they [the Nuggets] beat us pretty good so we owed them.”

    Griffin tallied 27 points, 12 rebounds, and five assists, while Paul scored a team season-high 36 points on 11-of-16 from the field and 11-of-12 from the free throw line. He also had nine assists.

    The Nuggets (18-16) played without their three top scorers Danilo Gallinari (ankle), Nene (calf), and Ty Lawson (ankle) as well as key reserve Rudy Fernandez (back). Yet it was a night when after trailing by two at halftime the Clippers needed every bit offense they could get from their two stars.

    Griffin opened the third quarter with three consecutive baskets, including a dunk soaring over rookie Kenneth Faried.

    In the fourth, following a missed 3-pointer by Al Harrington, Griffin made two free throws. On the next possession he skied for his tenth rebound, and after Randy Foye missed a 3-pointer from the right corner, Griffin chased down an offensive rebound and drew a foul on Corey Brewer and, again, made both free throws.

    And Paul put together a 14-point third quarter, getting to the free throw line, dropping in a floater, and a scoop layup in which he whirled the ball from his left shoulder to the right side of the rim around his defender. He followed that up with nine more in the fourth to help put the game away.

    “I got to the gym early and got up a lot of shots,” Paul said. “I was just trying to find a rhythm and be aggressive.”

    Foye started hot, making consecutive 3-pointers from opposite sides of the floor and finding Griffin on the break for a two-handed alley oop that lead to a Denver timeout.

    Foye finished with 11 points. He along with Mo Williams struggled from the field in the final three quarters. Foye was 1-for-8 after making two of his first three shots and Williams scored just six points on 2-of-16 from the field and 1-for-9 from beyond the arc.

    Still, the Clippers found a way, despite allowing 31 free-throw attempts, to halt the Nuggets when it mattered.

    Jordan led the defensive charge when he returned to the court in the fourth quarter with four fouls. And appeared re-energized contesting shots and snatching rebounds. With 1:05 to go, Griffin missed both free throws after being intentionally fouled near midcourt. Caron Butler got the offensive rebound, missed the putback, and Jordan cleaned it up with a two-handed follow-dunk over Faried.

    On the ensuing Denver possession, Jordan rejected Arron Afflalo into the second row along the sideline across from the Clippers bench.

    NOTES

    Griffin had five dunks on the night, upping his league-leading total to 93... Denver rookie swingman Jordan Hamilton scored a career-high 18 points off the bench. It was the second straight game a player reached a career best scoring against the Clippers after Ekpe Udoh had 19 points for the Warriors Monday… Paul and Griffin, who were elected starters in Sunday’s All-Star Game in Orlando, addressed the crowd prior to the game. Here is part of what each of them said. Griffin: “On behalf of myself and my teammates, thank you for your support.” Paul: “We’re going to go down to Orlando and make you guys proud.”


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