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Miller hands out season-high 12 assists as Nuggets end Clippers win streak

By Aaron J. Lopez, Nuggets.com

Posted Jan. 2 2013 00:20

During his Seattle days in the 1990s, Denver Nuggets coach George Karl had a big man who could spot up behind the arc and knock down 3s.

For one magical New Year’s Day moment, 7-foot center JaVale McGee looked like a modern-day Sam Perkins.

McGee beat the third-quarter buzzer with his first career 3-pointer, and Andre Miller and Kenneth Faried recorded double-doubles as the Nuggets snapped the Los Angeles Clippers’ 17-game win streak with a 92-78 victory Tuesday night at Pepsi Center.

“We take pride in everything we do, no matter if it’s home or away,” Faried said. “We took pride because they handed it to us on Christmas Day. We wanted to prove we could play with them and beat them.”

The Nuggets, who improved to an NBA-best 10-1 at home, led by seven points before closing the third quarter on a 10-1 run. McGee capped the 2:17 stretch when he took an inbounds pass from Miller with 1.3 seconds left and swished a 3-pointer from the left wing.

“They’re not going to guard me out there,” McGee said. “(Miller) passed it to me and I shot it. I always shoot them (in practice) just playing around, and I have my celebrations ready.”

Just seconds before inbounding the ball, Miller instructed McGee to step out to the perimeter because Clippers forward Lamar Odom was staying down in the paint. He just didn’t expect McGee to come out so far.

“I thought he would stay right there and take a 15-footer,” Miller said. “It was a big energy change going into the fourth quarter.”

The Clippers, who had not lost since Nov. 26, rallied from a 19-point deficit for their 16th win of the streak last week at Utah, but they never made a fourth-quarter charge against Denver.

The Nuggets led by as many as 18 in the fourth quarter to win their eighth straight home game.

“It definitely felt good,” McGee said. “From the stats, we always take care of home. We did a good job tonight.”

The Nuggets (18-15) played without starting point guard Ty Lawson, who sat out with a strained left Achilles’ tendon.

Miller, a starter for the first 12 years of his NBA career, stepped in and recorded 12 points and a season-high 12 assists in 41 minutes. He also played effective defense on Clippers All-Star guard Chris Paul (10 points, six assists).

“He’s just amazing,” Karl said. “I think he was the best player on the court. We don’t win this game without Andre. He just got us easy baskets, got a lot of guys involved, gave our team a lot of confidence just because of his control of the game.”

Heading into the game, Karl wanted the Nuggets to win the rebound and turnover battle, limit their turnovers and keep Los Angeles’ reserves from breaking loose. For the most part, he got all four.

Denver outrebounded the athletic Clippers 52-46, outscored Los Angeles 54-40 in the paint and scored 21 points off 15 L.A. turnovers. Eric Bledsoe had 12 points off the bench for the Clippers, but no one else finished in double figures.

“Give Denver credit. I just thought they outworked us,” Los Angeles coach Vinny Del Negro said. “They were a step faster than we were tonight.”

It marked the second-longest win streak the Nuggets have ever stopped. Michael Jordan and the Chicago Bulls saw their 18-game streak end in Denver on Feb. 4, 1996.

“Everybody got a look at what we could do, how good this team is and how scary we are,” Faried said. “What better way to start the new year.”

STAR OF THE GAME

Andre Miller

Points 12, 6-9 FG
Rebounds 3, 1 OFF 2 DEF
Assists 12
Steals 1
Blocks 0
GAME LEADERS
Points Danilo Gallinari 17
Rebounds Kenneth Faried, DeAndre Jordan 11
Assists Miller 12
Steals Corey Brewer 4
Blocks Jordan 3
QUOTE OF THE NIGHT

Nuggets forward Kenneth Faried on ending Clippers 17-game win streak

"It’s a good way to star the new year off. It’s also a good way to start this long homestand that we have. I hope to see the same type of crowd, energetic and enthusiastic about Nuggets basketball."

KEY MOMENT

JaVale McGee hits first career 3-pointer to beat third-quarter buzzer

With 1.3 seconds left in the third quarter and the Nuggets leading by 13, Denver center JaVale McGee took an inbounds pass from Andre Miller and swished a 3-pointer from the left wing. It was his first 3 in five career attempts. The Clippers never got closer than 13 points in the final 12 minutes.

VIDEO RECAP

Postgame Quotes

Nuggets coach George Karl

On what the Nuggets did defensively:
“Well, I think I told the team after the game it was the best focus, taking away what we wanted to take away, and what we felt the priorities. We had very few breakdowns and just keeping [Chris] Paul on the left side of the court and keeping [Jamal] Crawford, always seeing [him], don’t be afraid to double. I think they missed some open shots that helped us and our confidence to make a three ball like they have. But I just thought our defensive focus and mental toughness, the physical presence in the first half, all of our bigs did what they were supposed to do; be strong, stay strong, take fouls when you have to, don’t back down. As the game went on, the rebounding got better and better and getting our guards back rebounding the ball. I thought that was the reason we controlled the game.”

On Andre Miller:
“He’s just amazing. I think he was the best player on the court. We don’t win this game without Andre. I am sure I wore him out. He just got us easy baskets, got a lot of guys involved, gave our team a lot of confidence just because of his control of the game and I think the film going into the game, we thought he would put [Andre] Iguodala on [Chris] Paul but he wanted him. He thought that would be a better matchup. Chris didn’t have a bad game, but he didn’t have that dominating game he can have.”

On the team’s attitude toward the Clippers 17-game winning streak:
“I thought Corey [Brewer] played with a lot of anger. He played very poorly in LA. I thought our big guys, we thought we got bullied a little bit in LA. I just think the physicality and focus of our team in LA was Christmas day-ish. Tonight, as I said, I thought we acted well; the crowd was very much a part of our emotion. They are a good team. They are probably the best team right now and we stepped up and I hope we continue to do so.”

Nuggets guard/forward Andre Iguodala

On being successful against the Clippers after playing them so recently:
“That is something we have been working on. It was funny, I was talking to someone in the game and I was talking about our confidence and our swagger. I think that the Clippers have been playing with that for the last 18 games and I think that builds into them winning. They have that mentality every night that they are going to go out and win and we have to build the same thing and try to string along the same type of win streak.”

On his dunk in the last few minutes of the 4th quarter:
“I just got the crowd into it. It kind of closed the game a little bit but shut it over. It is always good when our fans are really into the games. They have been with us even though we haven’t been here [home] much to show them maybe but this will be a really important month for us to really get them into the game.”

On Andre Miller’s play:
“We connected on a few plays and it was like old times when we were in Philly just playing basketball, more so with your brain. They have a lot of athletic guys on the Clippers team. We have to out think them at times.”

Nuggets point guard Andre Miller

On the key to tonight’s game:
“Turnovers. They have been playing good basketball by forcing turnovers, getting into the open court, getting easy baskets. We kind of forced them to play from the outside. We overloaded them on one side and forced them to shoot jump shots from the weak-side. We were able to make them do that for the most part but they definitely made a run. We were able to control their bigs and that was a big part of the game.”

On Nuggets passing tonight:
“It was a weird game, kind of slow. I think both teams wanted to get up-and-down the court. It was just one of those nights where we fell into some easy baskets, controlled our turnovers and we had the energy on our side.”

On being able to get lobs against Clippers defense:
“They had been so aggressive on pick-and-rolls. Their bigs are up early, coming to trap the ball and they are overloading them and forcing turnovers with Chris Paul with their active hands. We were able to throw the ball over to Kenneth [Faried] and JaVale [McGee], he is so long that you just throw it up there and let him compete for the ball. It happened to get through a couple of times.”

Clippers coach Vinny Del Negro

On playing hard:
“We didn’t play hard enough or efficient enough and we have to get back on track tomorrow.”

On the streak:
“We talked about being proud about the way they have stayed together through it but tonight, our defense, usually they can hold us up like they had in the streak but they didn’t tonight. It’s early in the season and we have a lot of work to do, getting guys in and out of the lineup. We are not a complete team right now. I think we showed some good character and we were determined. Tonight was not our best night though, for sure.”

On shooting:
“Sometimes you are missing some easy ones but usually one or two guys have gotten us going, usually one or two or three. But tonight, no one could really knock anything down and then we missed so many free throws, we were always kind of playing sitting back on our heels. We were never really in attack-mode enough.”

On pacing and getting back into the game:
“I don’t think so; I just think we never got anyone to knock a shot down on a consistent basis. We could never find anything that was efficient offensively. We couldn’t get enough stops to get some easy ones in the open court and it was just one of those games.”

On going small at the end of the game:
“Just trying to space the floor, put some things up, try and scramble the game and just try to open the floor up as much as possible.”

Clippers forward Blake Griffin

On his performance:
“I hit a few shots early and then settled for some. I get into foul trouble and we didn’t ever get into our flow offensively and defensively. We were all a step slower today. We’ve got to be better than that. We’re not going to sit and cry on the plane and get beat down; we’re not going to cause ourselves to lose our confidence, despite what people want us to do. That’s the best thing about the NBA: you’ve got another game.”

On the 17-game win streak:
“We’re going to attack every game like we did during the streak. Throughout the course of the game it’s tough when you’re missing shots, but at the same time you have games like that and you have to figure out how to get around it, which we didn’t do. That’s the result of a game like this. We did a poor job defensively and that carried into our offense with missing shots; it snowballed and just went downhill.”

On defending Kenneth Faried:
“He’s got a lot of energy around the rim. He’s constantly moving and going after the ball.”

Clippers guard Chris Paul

On the loss:
“We came out and we played. We got a lot of the shots we wanted. They [ Nuggets] had 30 assists and we lost.”

On Denver’s defense:
“Maybe two or three of the threes that we missed, they [Nuggets] had a hand in our face, but we got all of the shots we wanted. There are going to be nights like that. It just hasn’t happened for a while. Even nights during the streak when we missed shots, we’ve been quick enough to get back and get our shots.”

On JaVale MGee’s three-pointer at the end of the third quarter:
“It was an opportunist play. There was one second left, and we sat back and he [McGee] was a wide open shooter.”

POSTGAME NOTES

INDIVIDUAL

• Andre Miller scored 12 points and dished out 12 assists in his first start of the year for the Nuggets, marking his 204th career double-double (first this season). The 12 assists mark a season high for the veteran and the most since 1/27/12 vs. TOR (12 assists). Dating back to last season, the Nuggets are 16-2 when Miller records 10+ assists.

• Additionally, Miller played 41:21 in the game, marking the most minutes he has played in a game since 2/7/11 vs. CHI, as a member of the Portland Trailblazers (41:41).

• Kenneth Faried scored 14 points and brought down 11 rebounds, marking his 14th double-double this season (26th career). It is the 15th double-double the forward has posted at the Pepsi Center in his career, with the Nuggets going 14-1 in those games.

• Faried registered five offensive rebounds in the victory, marking the ninth time in his career he has recorded five-or-more offensive boards at the Pepsi Center (Denver 8-1). He has had five-or-more offensive rebounds in three of the last four games.

• JaVale McGee led the Nuggets’ bench with 11 points, the ninth time this season McGee has led or tied for the lead in bench scoring (Nuggets 7-2). Additionally McGee tied a career-high with three assists (3/20/11 vs. NJN) and hit his first career three pointer at the end of the third quarter.

• Corey Brewer tied a season high with four steals tonight, the 17th time in his career he has posted four-or-more steals in a game (last time – 12/3/12 vs. TOR).

• Prior to tonight, Blake Griffin had shot 50%-or-better in each of the Clippers last 17 games.

TEAM

• The Nuggets beat the Clippers 92-78 tonight, snapping LA’s 17-game winning streak and moving to 10-1 at home. Denver has started 10-1 or better at home in three of the last four seasons (last season was only year they didn’t).

• Tonight was the second-longest win streak ever snapped by the Nuggets. The Chicago Bulls were on an 18-game streak when Denver beat them on 2/4/1996.

• Both Andre Miller and Kenneth Faried registered double-doubles tonight, moving Denver to 6-1 on the year when two-or-more players post double-doubles in the same game.

• The Nuggets held the Clippers to an opponent season-low 78 points, while the Clippers shot a season-low .385 (30-78 FG) from the field. Denver is now 9-2 when holding their opponent below 40% shooting and 14-3 when allowing fewer than 100 points (7-2 when allowing fewer than 90).

• Denver registered 21 points off turnovers to the Clippers 10 points off turnovers. The Nuggets are now 12-2 when scoring more points off turnovers than their opponent.

• The Nuggets outrebounded LA 52-to-46, moving to 8-2 when collecting 50+ rebounds. Denver has outrebounded their opponent in 21 of 33 games.

• Denver had 11 steals tonight and are now 9-1 when posting 10-or-more steals.

• The Nuggets recorded 23 second chance points, moving to 9-2 on the year when doing so (have won each of the last eight).