Denver gets 16-4 run in road win over Clippers
NUGGETS 106, CLIPPERS 102
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