FINAL | January 1, 2013 | PEPSI Center, Denver, CO 

19

24

16

19

78

LOGO

21

27

27

17

92

 

Eric Patten

DENVER–The winning streak is over.

After stringing together a franchise-record 17 consecutive victories, the Clippers could not overcome a sluggish shooting performance at Pepsi Center Tuesday night, falling, 92-78, to the Denver Nuggets.

The Clippers (25-7) were just the 17th team in history to post a winning streak of 17 games or longer, but were done in on New Year’s Day by a 38.5% shooting effort and their most lopsided defeat of the season.

“We know we didn’t play well tonight,” Clippers head coach Vinny Del Negro said. “We didn’t deserve to win because we didn’t play hard enough or efficient enough.”

After snatching a 16-15 lead on a 3-pointer by Chris Paul in the first quarter, the Clippers went cold. They made six field goals in the first 5:33 and finished 30-of-78 from the field.

“We did a poor job defensively of being on a string like we have been and that kind of carried over into our offense,” forward Blake Griffin said. “We have to be better than that to win games like this on the road especially.”

It was the 10th win in 11 home games for Denver (18-15). The Clippers fell percentage points behind the Oklahoma City Thunder for the best record in the NBA.


Difference Maker: The Nuggets’ 54 points in the paint. Whether it was on second-chance points or open driving lanes for slashers like Andre Iguodala and Danilo Gallinari, the Nuggets had their way with the Clippers inside. Denver scored 18 of its first 21 points inside with the only basket from the perimeter coming on a 3-pointer by Iguodala.

“They scouted what we do defensively,” said Lamar Odom, who had four points and eight rebounds. “And they ran a lot of pick and roll and that flooded to the strong side and gave them a huge advantage. I give them credit.

“Our defensive balance was bad. We didn’t keep our bigs on bigs and they were able to get offensive rebounds. They got a lot of long rebounds tonight.”

Moment of Truth: The final 1.3 seconds of the third quarter. After the Clippers had climbed to within seven on a corner 3-pointer by Bledsoe, Denver ran off nine consecutive points, a run capped by the final play of the quarter. Matt Barnes rejected a Corey Brewer 3-pointer out of bounds, but with 1.3 seconds to go in the quarter the Nuggets in-bounded the ball to enigmatic center JaVale McGee, who was left uncovered. McGee turned and fired a 27-foot 3-pointer that went in at the buzzer, extending Denver’s lead to 16 heading into the final 12 minutes. The play was somewhat indicative of the entire night for the Clippers, who could not seem to find their rhythm on either end of the floor.

“We were a step slow tonight and we’ve got to do better than that,” Griffin said.

As for McGee’s shot, his first ever make from 3-point range, Paul said the Nuggets took advantage of the Clippers leaving the big man open on the wing.

“It was an opportunistic play,” Paul said. “I was sitting there [on the bench] telling coach [Robert] Pack, when there was one second left, we sat back off of [McGee], ‘They’re going to throw it to JaVale and he’s going to shoot it.’ There’s no pressure. There’s one second. You’re wide open. Shoot it.”


Stat Line of the Night: Andre Miller. Starting in place of Ty Lawson, who was out because of a left Achilles tendon strain, the one-time Clipper scored 12 points on 6-of-9 shooting with a season-high 12 assists in 41:21. Known as one of the best alley-oop passers in the league, Miller converted three in half-court sets off backdoor cuts by McGee (twice) and Iguodala.  

“I think he was the best player on the court,” Nuggets head coach George Karl said. “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.”

More Stats: 

Jordan. He scored 11 points to go with 11 rebounds, three steals and three blocks in 26:06. It was Jordan’s sixth double-double of the season and the second time in his career he’s had double-digit rebounds with at least three steals and three blocks in the same game.

Griffin. A night after scoring just seven points against the Jazz due to foul trouble, Griffin struggled to stay on the court again Tuesday. He picked up his fourth foul with 6:55 left in the third quarter and did not return until early in the fourth. He finished with 12 points and nine rebounds, but missed seven of his 11 shots.

“I played poorly tonight. Everybody has bad games and this was a poor game for me, but it’s not something I’m going to sit and dwell on.”

Iguodala. The Nuggets swingman had 12 points on 5-of-10 shooting, adding eight assists, seven rebounds and two steals.

Hot: Nuggets at the rim. The Nuggets were 27-of-50 in the paint (54 points). They came in ranked first in the league in rebounding and grabbed 15 offensive boards, leading to 23 second-chance points.

Not: The Clippers’ all-around shooting performance. Eric Bledsoe, who had 12 points, was the only Clippers player to make more than four field goals and one of only three guys to shoot better than 50% on the night. As a team the Clippers shot a season-low 38.5%, 17.2% from 3-point range (5-for-29).

“I think we all got shots that we’d love to get cracks at again because you’re never really that open,” said Jamal Crawford, who scored nine points off the bench on 2-for-11 shooting. “It happens sometimes, but it’s a long season.”

The Clippers also made 13 of their 29 free throws, including a 3-for-10 night from Jordan, who entered the game having made 10 of his last 14.

Quotables:

On where the game got away:

Paul: “It was one of those nights. We didn’t make shots. We were 5-for-29 from the three and us not making shots gave a team that probably plays faster than anybody [the ball off long rebounds], it fit right into their hands.”

On end of winning streak:

Griffin: “We’re not going to sit and cry on the plane and get down or cause this to hurt out confidence, despite what people want to see it do. You’re only as good as your last game, so right now people want us to be down on ourselves and we’ve got to pop back up.”

Paul: “We’re just upset that we lost. We couldn’t care less about the streak.”

Crawford: “We never got too high about the streak. We knew at some point we were going to lose. We weren’t going to go undefeated the rest of the season. For us, you see we’re still playing music. We’re not too high or too low.”

On difference for Denver between Tuesday night and last week’s 112-100 loss in L.A.:

Karl: “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.”

Notes: The Nuggets also ended the 1995-96 Chicago Bulls’ 18-game winning streak… The Clippers are 5-5 all-time on New Year’s Day… Denver had 28 assists to the Clippers 15… Twice in the second half the Pepsi Center crowd let out chants of “Beat L-A”… The Clippers committed 15 turnovers. It’s the fifth time in the last seven games they’ve had 15 or miscues… Gallinari scored a game-high 17 points… Prior to the game Del Negro said forward Grant Hill, who has not played this season due to a bone bruise in his knee, is doing “better.”

“He’s started doing some conditioning things and some basketball stuff and said he felt good. He ran a lot yesterday, so he’s just going to kind of pick up his activity and we’ll monitor him.”

CLICK HERE FOR PHOTOS »
LOOKING AHEAD:
 FR
WEDNESDAY, JANUARY 2 FRIDAY, JANUARY 4  

7:30 PM
@GOLDEN STATE WARRIORS

7:30 PM
LOS ANGELES LAKERS