Andersen injured in Denver's victory over the Clippers
As gravity took hold, there was little Nuggets forward Chris Andersen could do except prepare himself for impact as he fell to the floor.
“I knew I was tipping over, so I tried to brace, but it’s not like falling when you’re 21,” the 32-year-old Andersen said. “I’m the Bird, not a cat.”
Birdman didn’t land on his feet when he tumbled over the top of Los Angeles Clippers guard Eric Bledsoe on Friday night. After a season-high six blocks, he was forced to leave the game with 7:15 remaining in a nip-and-tuck game at the Pepsi Center.
On the strength of 43-for-59 free-throw shooting, the Nuggets eventually prevailed, defeating the Clippers 109-104 for their sixth straight victory.
Andersen suffered a bruised lower back. X-rays were negative, but it’s uncertain whether he will be able to play Sunday against the Memphis Grizzlies.
“I’m going to take it one day at a time right now,” he said. “We’ll see.”
After missing the first 13 games of the season while recovering from knee surgery, Andersen is starting to get his timing back. His six blocks against the Clippers were one more than he had in his first four games combined.
“Bird’s always had great bounce and his timing’s getting there,” Nuggets assistant Melvin Hunt said. “He has a defensive mindset and he changes our team. You can already see his imprint on this team in just a short while.
“He alters a lot of shots and people know he’s back there. When teams know you don’t have shot-blocking, they’ll challenge you more. With Bird in the game, he’s fearless.”
Andersen wasn’t the only one to give Denver a spark on an otherwise lethargic Friday night. Point guard Ty Lawson had three steals and banked in a 60-foot three-pointer to end the third quarter. The heave gave the Nuggets a four-point lead that they never relinquished.
“Me and coach Melvin have been practicing that for the last five days,” Lawson said. “I just lined it up, used my legs and it went in off the backboard. I called glass, too.”
The victory gave George Karl his 998th career regular-season win. Karl missed the team’s morning shootaround because of a high fever but was back on the bench at game time.
“My temperature went up to 102, 103 and I just kind of laid in bed and went to bed early,” he said. “Still woke up this morning at about 101. It was going in a good direction and I didn’t want to change that, so I stayed home.”
Nuggets forward Carmelo Anthony also has been dealing with flu symptoms, but he looks better and better by the day.
Anthony scored 26 points and J.R. Smith continued his strong play with 21 points.
Smith and Lawson combined to hit 6-of-9 three-pointers, while the Clippers were 6-for-20 as a team from three-point range. Denver outscored the Clippers 75-38 from the free-throw and three-point lines; Los Angeles had a 66-34 edge from everywhere else on the floor.
The Nuggets undoubtedly will seek a little more balance when they close out a five-game homestand Sunday against the Memphis Grizzlies.
"We’re focusing in," Andersen said. "Everybody’s playing pretty good together. We’ve just got to keep this streak going."