Den­ver gets 16-4 run in road win over Clip­pers

NUGGETS 106, CLIP­PERS 102

The Denver Post - - SPORTS - By Christo­pher Dempsey

los an­ge­les» Let’s be hon­est about the Nuggets’ game Mon­day night at the Sta­ples Cen­ter. They had to win it. Had to.

The Nuggets won’t get a more per­fect setup this sea­son. The Clip­pers were dam­aged goods, miss­ing starters Chris Paul, J.J. Redick and Blake Grif­fin be­cause of in­juries. Gone with that trio was lit­er­ally half the Clip­pers’ points per game (54.2). Throw in the fact that the Clip­pers were play­ing their fourth game in five nights, and they were ripe to be picked apart.

The Nuggets’ 106-102 vic­tory was ex­actly that. It had to be.

Part of be­com­ing the team they want to be means tak­ing ad­van­tage of these sit­u­a­tions. The Nuggets did it with a steady, re­lent­less dose of pace. Run­ning after missed shots. Run­ning after made shots. Run­ning off turnovers. Mon­day night, if the Nuggets had

the ball, they were push­ing it up the court. It was de­signed to cave the weary legs of the Clip­pers.

The Nuggets mar­ried that pace with streaky shoot­ing that skewed mostly hot. These were their first-half shoot­ing streaks:

Started the game: 7-for-12; ended the first quar­ter: 2-for-16; the sec­ond quar­ter: 14-for-17.

But the Clip­pers didn’t go away. They put the pedal to the metal in or­der to get back into things. The fast break was their friend, as was the shoot­ing of Ja­mal Craw­ford, Austin Rivers and Ray­mond Fel­ton. The trio got the Clip­pers started on the come­back trail, then the hard-hat work ethic of Mau­rice Speights and Bran­don Bass help them com­plete a 17-point come­back to take a seven-point lead of their own in the fourth quar­ter. But the Nuggets didn’t fold. They went on a 16-4 run of their own to take a five-point lead at 100-95. Nikola Jo­kic (24 points and 10 re­bounds) was huge, scor­ing 10 points in that run, mak­ing all the plays the Nuggets needed to rally. Will Barton made big shots of his own, and team­mate Danilo Gal­li­nari made four free throws in the clos­ing sec­onds to seal Den­ver’s road vic­tory.

Nuggets for­ward Ken­neth Faried tries to score against Clip­pers for­ward Wes­ley John­son dur­ing the first half of Mon­day night’s game at the Sta­ples Cen­ter in Los An­ge­les. Faried fin­ished with eight points. Photos by Mark J. Ter­rill, The As­so­ci­ated Press

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