Five Takeaways: Clippers’ Starters Can’t Be Stopped In Win Vs. Nuggets
LOS ANGELES – The Nuggets (12-17) had no answers for the Clippers’ (21-8) starters, who returned from a three-game road trip and pounced on Denver back at home.
Here are five quick takeaways from the Clippers’ 119-102 win.
1) Pierce gets start with Griffin out – When the Clippers lost Blake Griffin for 45 straight games last season, Paul Pierce stepped into the starting lineup. Head coach Doc Rivers said the Clippers’ success last year keeping things afloat, going 30-15 during that stretch, doesn’t mean anything this year, and they need to prove once again they can play without a star for an extended period of time. Still, this year the lineup looked similar in the Clippers’ first game without Griffin for the next four to six weeks following a successful arthroscopic knee procedure. Pierce stepped back into the starting lineup, though that may not always be the case, as Rivers said the decision on the fifth starter will be matchup-based, and he liked what Pierce brought against a bigger Nuggets starting five. Pierce finished with seven points, knocking down two 3-pointers.
2) Starters pour it on – The Nuggets couldn’t hang with the Clippers’ starters. By halftime, every Clippers starter was plus-23 or better. As the night went on, it only got worse for Denver, with every Clippers starter plus-28 or better, including a plus-37 night for Chris Paul, who played just 26 minutes and still finished with 16 points, 15 assists and eight rebounds.The reserves didn’t have the same success, but Marreese Speights still added 10 points, and the Clippers’ starters were so dominant that it didn’t matter, leading by as many as 29 points and outscoring the Nuggets’ starters by 33 on the night.
3) Star-studded event – In addition to Paul, it was a noteworthy night for the rest of the starters, as well. J.J. Redick started 5-for-5 from behind the arc and finished the night with a team-high 27 points on 10-for-16 shooting, going 7-for-9 from 3-point range. DeAndre Jordan denied the Nuggets inside, posting 13 points and 13 rebounds with a block, and Luc Mbah a Moute added 14 points – his most since a 15-point night Dec. 2.
4) Inside and out – The Clippers had it going from everywhere. Inside, Paul was picking apart the Nuggets on the pick-and-roll, finding Jordan inside on multiple occasions as the Clippers racked up 40 points in the paint. They weren’t picky, though, showing love to the perimeter as well. The Clippers knocked down 16 3-pointers – their most in a game December.
5) Never a doubt – The starters jumped on the Nuggets early, as the Clippers scored 36 points in the first quarter and led by double digits. Despite Denver getting it close on multiple occasions in the first quarter, the lead never changed; and with the Clippers outscoring the Nuggets, 27-19, in the third quarter, they made sure to keep it that way.
What’s Next? – The Clippers host the Spurs on Thursday.