Denver Nuggets end Clippers winning streak
DENVER (AP) — Even the NBA’s hottest team can have a bad night.
The Denver Nuggets took advantage of the Los Angeles Clippers’ shooting woes Tuesday night, getting 17 points from Danilo Gallinari in a 92-78 victory that snapped the Clippers’ franchise-record, 17-game winning streak.
Poor shooting, particularly from 3-point range (5 of 29, 17.2 percent) and the free-throw line (13 of 29, 44.8 percent) doomed the Clippers’ streak, the longest in the NBA since the Boston Celtics won 19 in a row from Nov. 15-Dec. 23, 2008. The Clippers avoided matching their season-low in points when Eric Bledsoe hit a jumper in the final seconds.
“Throughout the course of the game, it’s tough when you’re missing shots, but at the same time you have games like that and you have to figure out how to get around it, which we didn’t do,” said Blake Griffin, who had 12 points but shot less than 50 percent from the field (4 of 11) for the first time in 18 games.
“That’s the result of a game like this. We did a poor job defensively and that carried into our offense with missing shots. It snowballed and just went downhill.”
The Nuggets, of course, had something to do with that and Andre Iguodala said the victory against the Clippers, who built their streak in part with a Christmas Day win against Denver in Los Angeles, would help the Nuggets build “our confidence, our swagger.
“The Clippers have been playing with that the last 18 games. That builds into them winning. They have the mentality every night they’re going to go out there and win. We’ve got to build the same thing and try to string along the same type of win streak.”
The loss was the first for the Clippers since a 105-98 setback against New Orleans on Nov. 26. It also marked the end of a franchise-record seven-game winning streak on the road.
Kenneth Faried added 14 points and 11 rebounds for the Nuggets, who won their eighth in a row at home.
Bledsoe scored 12 points, DeAndre Jordan had 11 and Chris Paul 10 for the Clippers.
“Maybe two or three of the 3’s that we missed, they had a hand in our face,” Paul said. “But we got all the shots that we wanted. There are going to be nights like that. It just hasn’t happened for a while.”
Andre Miller had 12 points and 12 assists for the Nuggets starting in place of point guard Ty Lawson, who has been bothered by tightness in his left Achilles’ tendon for the past week and missed a game for the first time this season.
“We don’t win this game without Andre,” Nuggets coach George Karl said. “He just got us easy baskets, got a lot of guys involved, gave our team a lot of confidence.”
Miller wasn’t taking all the credit.
“It was a good win against a good team. We beat them every quarter,” he said. “It was a weird game, kind of slow. Both teams want to get up and down the court. It was one of those nights where we fell into some easy baskets. We controlled our turnovers and had the energy on our side.”
Iguodala helped out at point guard and chipped in with 12 points and eight assists for Denver, which lost 112-100 to the Clippers in Los Angeles on Christmas Day.
After Bledsoe hit a 3-pointer to pull the Clippers within 65-58 with 1:54 left in the third quarter, the Nuggets scored eight of the next nine points, including JaVale McGee’s first career 3-pointer at the buzzer to take a 75-59 lead into the fourth quarter. McGee, who had a dunk off an alley-oop from Miller on Denver’s previous possession, hadn’t even tried a 3-pointer in a game all season until then. He blew on his shooting hand after making the 3 as if to cool it off.
The Clippers got within 87-73 with 4:02 remaining when Griffin made one of two free throws, but the Nuggets, as they did throughout the game, had an answer with Iguodala getting loose in the paint for a slam. The Clippers didn’t threaten the rest of the way.
The Nuggets took a 12-point lead with 3:01 left in the second quarter when Faried buried a short hook shot before settling for a 48-43 halftime advantage.
Los Angeles closed the period with a 9-2 run, starting with Paul converting a three-point play followed by Jordan’s dunk off a lob from Paul.
NOTES: Clippers PG Chauncey Billups, a former Nugget and native of Denver, missed the game as he continues to recover from a foot injury that has kept him on the sideline this season. ... The Clippers began a stretch of four games in five days that resumes Wednesday in Oakland against the Golden State Warriors. ... The Nuggets improved to 5-1 on New Year’s Day. ... Miller had a double-double for the 204th time in his career and the first time this season. ... The Clippers’ 17-game streak was the second-longest ever snapped by the Nuggets. The Chicago Bulls were on an 18-game run when the Nuggets beat them on Feb. 4, 1996.