Nuggets fall to Clippers, drop to 3-3 in preseason

Denver wraps up exhibition schedule Friday night in Phoenix
by Aaron Lopez

There is a long list of items on an NBA team’s agenda in the preseason.

It includes finding successful combinations in the playing rotation, establishing good habits both offensively and defensively, and avoiding serious injuries as opening night approaches.

The scoreboard is secondary.

“You don’t want to be the best team (coming) out of training camp,” Nuggets coach George Karl said after Denver’s 106-94 loss to the Los Angeles Clippers on Thursday night. “You just want to (be prepared to) win games.”

After winning their first three preseason games, the Nuggets fell to 3-3 heading into their exhibition finale Friday in Phoenix. Denver then will have four days leading up to the regular-season opener in Philadelphia.

“Six games into the preseason, we’re ready to play for real,” forward Corey Brewer said. “When it starts on the 31st, we’ve got to get a win.”

Brewer led Denver with 15 points and is averaging a team-best 17 points per game in the preseason. Center Kosta Koufos added a double-double (12 points, 10 rebounds) for the Nuggets, who fell behind by 17 points midway through the second quarter and never fully recovered.

“We can’t get blown out like that on our home court,” Brewer said. “I don’t care if it’s preseason, summer basketball, whatever.”


Here are some other notes and observations from the sideline at Pepsi Center:

  • Nuggets rookie Evan Fournier does not look at all intimidated on the NBA stage. He played the entire fourth quarter and finished with four points and a steal.

    “I feel pretty comfortable on the floor,” Fournier said. “I know what I have to do.”

    Though only 19 years old, Fournier played professionally for three years in France,. He is drawing up on that experience as he adapts to the NBA.

    “I know how it works,” he said. “I’ve been in a tough situation before, so I know what to do.”

    With sound fundamentals and a heady approach to the game, Fournier is pushing second-year swingman Jordan Hamilton for minutes with the second unit.

    “Right now, they’re very even to me,” Karl said. “Who finds it is a competition right now.”

  • After going 2-for-14 from 3-point range in his first five preseason games, Andre Iguodala went 3-for-7 from beyond the arc on Thursday night. He finished with 11 points, four rebounds and seven assists.

    “I’m progressing each and every day, but I’m still a ways away, which is scary,” Iguodala said. “I’m still trying to put it together for more than one minute, one half, one game or multiple games.”

  • The Nuggets could have benefitted from the defensive ability of forward Wilson Chandler against Clippers All-Star forward Blake Griffin. Chandler did not play after having some dental work done on Wednesday.

    Of Griffin’s 10 field goals, seven were dunks or layups; he finished with 25 points and 11 rebounds in less than 29 minutes.

    “If you had to tell me who’s the best defensive big man we have, Wilson conceptually knows how to defend pick-and-rolls better than all our big guys,” Karl said.

    Chandler, still recovering from hip surgery, said he hopes to play Friday against Phoenix.

  • Karl went with a big lineup for the final 3:46 of the first quarter, playing point guard Andre Miller with wings Brewer and Danilo Gallinari and big men Koufos and JaVale McGee. The Clippers outscored the Nuggets 14-6 during that stretch.

  • Sub-par free-throw shooting is hurting Denver’s offensive efficiency. The Nuggets went 22-of-36 from the line against the Clippers and are now shooting .669 in the preseason. The Nuggets were 25th in the NBA last year (.735).

  • Karl said Iguodala and Gallinari likely won't play against Phoenix. Iguodala has played in every preseason game, while Gallinari is nursing some minor bumps and bruises.