The Clippers will close out their preseason schedule on the road Thursday night against the Denver Nuggets, the team they faced on the opening night of the preseason in Las Vegas.
The teams’ second meeting has could be quite unlike the first, where the Clippers lost, 106-104, on a driving layup by Ty Lawson at the buzzer.
In that game, Eric Bledsoe filled in for point guard Chris Paul, who was still recovering from offseason surgery on his right thumb, with 25 points, including a reverse layup with 1.9 seconds left that tied the score, while adding eight rebounds and six assists. Paul is likely to play Thursday.
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Though revenge may cross the team’s minds, the Clippers (4-3) have played a lot of basketball since the Oct. 6 game, and are more concerned with moving forward to the regular season.
Thursday night’s game at Pepsi Center will be the Clippers’ third game in four nights. They hopped on a plane to Denver (3-2) following a 97-91 win against the Lakers Wednesday and defeated the Warriors by 17 two nights earlier. It will be the last tune-up for the Clippers before facing off against the Grizzlies at home on Oct. 31 to open up regular season play.
THREE THINGS TO WATCH
Andre Iguodala. Iguodala has not had the preseason fans would expect after being traded to Denver in the trade that sent Dwight Howard to the Lakers and Andrew Bynum to the Philadelphia 76ers. As a franchise-type of player, his eight points per game average is likely to increase sooner rather than later. Because he poses match-up difficulties for opponents at an athletic 6-foot-6, Iguodala might be more aggressive than he has been so far in the preseason against the frontcourt of the Clippers.
Back-to-back game. The Clippers are coming off of a game last night against the Lakers that went down to the wire. Fatigue might be a factor, especially on the road and in the altitude of the Mile High City. Fighting through the back-to-back games in preseason, however, serves as a warm up for the regular season grind.
“It’ll be a good test for us,” said Blake Griffin, who scored six points in the previous outing against Denver. “It’s good to get that under our belt because we have a back-to-back early in the regular season.”
Eric Bledsoe vs. Ty Lawson. Both guards are extremely quick and Bledsoe looks to build on his previous outing (22 points, 11 assists and nine steals against the Lakers) as well as slow Lawson in transition and dictate the Clippers’ tempo in what could be an up-and-down kind of game.
“I’m just looking forward to coming in and picking up the pace for the team when Chris [Paul] isn’t in the game,” Bledsoe said.
Grant Hill and Lamar Odom are not expected to play due to bone bruises in their knees…Guard Chauncey Billups, a Denver native, played for the Nuggets from 1998-2000 and then again from 2009-11. Billups will not play Thursday as he continue recovering from February surgery to repair a torn left Achilles tendon.