Tag Archives: Denver Nuggets

Clippers Last Game Before Playoffs

Your chance to see Blake Griffin, Chris Paul, DeAndre Jordan in the last game of the regular season at the LA Staples Center as they take on the Denver Nuggets April 15th!

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Clippers Vs Nuggets Staples Center

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Winner will receive a pair of April 15th Clippers Vs Nuggets Tickets for the LA Staples Center Game at 7:30pm. Winner must pick up the Clippers Vs Nuggets tickets at our downtown office on April 15th. Multiple entries will be deleted and only one will be entered.

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You can purchase Clippers Playoff Tickets for all games at the Staples Center with No Service Fees. Barry’s Tickets has been serving Los Angeles and the Clipper Nation since 1985.

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The Lakers Without Kobe Bryant

Kobe Bryant LA Lakers

Kobe

The six-month wait for Kobe Bryant to return from his Achilles injury was short-lived. The Lakers superstar was slowly working his way back into shape before injury struck again a week ago Tuesday versus the Memphis Grizzlies. Bryant’s knee injury was suffered in the third quarter. The optimism the Lakers saw in Bryant’s improved play has he rounded into form was quickly scuttled once again. Bryant’s fracture of the lateral tibial plateau in the same leg he suffered his Achilles tear has put Bryant on the shelf for an additional six weeks that will carry through into the All Star break. The injury has made many question the wisdom of Bryant returning at all this season. The Lakers superstar reiterated his determination to play again this season, which he will likely do. The latest injury, although clearly not season ending, has once again made many question the Lakers decision to extend Bryant for two additional seasons beyond this year.

The Lakers have re-upped Bryant so it’s pointless to debate the merits of the deal. The club may have over-paid for the player that Bryant is at this point in his career, but you have to admire their interest in rewarding their superstar for what he’s done for the franchise. In a difficult Western Conference it’s difficult to see the Lakers competing for one of the final playoff spots. Los Angeles currently sits at 12th in the west, in a solid group of teams that includes Denver, Minnesota, New Orleans and Memphis. The Dallas and Phoenix greatly improved the already competitive west has become even tougher. With the Lakers playoff chances dim does it make sense to sit Bryant the entire regular season?

Kobe Bryant Los Angeles Lakers

Kobe Bryant

Actually getting the famously competitive Bryant to sit out the season is a challenge in itself, but the idea of sitting Bryant does make some sense. Without Bryant the Lakers were surprisingly competitive due to the roster decisions they made in the offseason. An entire year off would give Bryant the ability to truly recover, both from the knee injury and the Achilles. There is no indication that the two injuries are related but Bryant has now suffered two major injuries on the same leg in the past eight months. A fully recovered Bryant, even if he’s diminished athletically, will allow the Lakers to achieve the max value out of his two-year extension. During the remainder of the regular season the club can take a long look at some of the younger players (Wes Johnson, Nick Young, Jordan Farmar) that have helped ignite them this season. The combination of a potential lottery big and any value the club can get for Pau Gasol in a potential trade will give the Lakers even more versatility next season.

The Lakers fan base can tolerate a subpar season to build for the future. A fully recovered Bryant and a solid draft pick can do wonders for the franchise as they move into next season. Meanwhile let’s sit back and enjoy this year’s team, who though far less talented are a lot more entertaining than last year’s Dwight Howard centered club. By:Chris Michaels.

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Do the Lakers Need Some Love?

Kevin Love LA Lakers

Kevin Love

The Los Angeles Lakers are constantly searching for ways to shake things up. They are exploring trade scenarios, they are looking for their next superstar. They will have to find a way to turn things around and stop their descent.

The team might make a move soon, this summer or eventually the next one. But it will make a move, a big move, that’s what the Lakers have always done. LA needs to find the player who will lead the franchise to the post-Kobe Bryant era. Kevin Love might be exactly that player.

Love could be the perfect fit for the Los Angeles Lakers. He could be the superstar the team needs.

The 25-year old power forward has a contract that expires no sooner than the summer of 2016, but he does have a player option for the last year of his contract. If he chooses to opt-out, he could be a really hot target for the Lakers.

Although the Lakers would be eager to land him sooner, the team doesn’t have the assets to offer the Timberwolves. So such a deal would never work.

Kevin Love trade

Love

Nevertheless, Minnesota signed Love to a four-year deal, when they could have offered him a maximum five-year contract. That seemed to bother Love a bit, whilst he wasn’t dissatisfied with the deal, of course. Nonetheless, Love certainly is not 100 percent happy in Minnesota. It’s not just about money. The team still hasn’t found a way to reach the highest level of competiveness.

Love’s addition by the Lakers only makes sense for the team. The departure of Dwight Howard and the rejection of the Chris Paul trade from the NBA left the Lakers with little hopes of finding the next big thing, their next superstar.

Love has many ties with Los Angeles. He was born in Santa Monica and he attended UCLA. There is an obvious link between the Lakers and Love. It’s growing constantly. However, Lakers fans will have to wait for this process to evolve.

For now, Love is just showing a bit of his talents to the Lakers fans, to the entire franchise. That’s what he did during the Lakers – Wolves meeting, earlier this season, when he put up points in bunches and sank one three-pointer after another.

Lakers Kevin Love trade

Laker Love

There not many more options for the Lakers in the market. LeBron James most probably will stay in Miami, where he will have the chance be a member of a winning organization and play alongside his buddy, Dwyane Wade.

Carmelo Anthony is another tough case. Melo is in the middle of his prime and the last thing he wants is to become a part of a one-star franchise. That’s what the Lakers are projected to become after Kobe retires. Melo has been in a similar situation, when he was a member of the Denver Nuggets.

The addition of Kevin Love is one that only makes sense for both the Lakers and the 25-year old superstar. Time will tell if this will become reality. By:Chris Michaels.

Western Conference Contenders and Pretenders

Western Conference

Western Conference

Two weeks into the 2013-2014 NBA season the Western Conference is taking shape. The usual contenders, San Antonio and Oklahoma City are at the top, but with Denver and the Los Angeles Lakers struggling there’s an opportunity for some new contenders to make a playoff run. Here’s a look at the elite, contenders and pretenders of the early NBA season.

The West Elite: (San Antonio, Oklahoma City, Los Angeles Clippers, Golden State Warriors)

The veteran San Antonio Spurs picked up where they left off and are off to a fast start to begin the season. They’re well coached, experienced and deep and should contend for the top record in the NBA all season. If Tim Duncan and Tony Parker can stay healthy the Spurs are the favorites for a return trip to the finals. The Oklahoma City Thunder welcomed back Russell Westbrook early and their star point guard seems to be the same explosive player he was before his meniscus tear. The Thunder is 5-1 on the season with their lone loss versus the Minnesota Timberwolves. The presence of Kevin Durant and Russell Westbrook guarantees 55 to 60 wins—how that translates into the postseason is the big question. The Thunder still misses that extra scorer that James Harden once provided. The Los Angeles Clippers are still adjusting to the coaching style of Doc Rivers, but have a deep lineup and bench and an elite point guard in Chris Paul.

The Next in Line: (Minnesota, Memphis, Dallas, Houston)

The Minnesota Timberwolves are finally healthy and displaying the potential that many predicted when Ricky Rubio arrived in the United States. In Rubio, Kevin Love and Nikola Pekovic the Wolves have one of the best trios in basketball and an elite Head Coach in Rick Adelman. The Wolves acquisition of Kevin Martin, who thrived under Adelman in Sacramento, has given the club the strong perimeter shooting two guard they missed. Look for the Wolves to challenge the 50 win mark and reach the playoffs for the first time under Love. Memphis switched Head Coaches, with Dave Joerger taking over for Lionel Hollins. They’ve struggled initially in the transition but still feature the same big and physical lineup that’s worked for them the past three seasons. Marc Gasol is one of the league’s best centers and he forms perhaps the best center/power forward combination in basketball with Zach Randolph. The Dallas Mavericks, who missed the playoffs last season, have rebuilt to make another run. The newly minted backcourt of Monta Ellis and Jose Calderon is working so far, giving Dirk Nowitzki the guard play he hasn’t had since the Mavs title run. The key for Dallas, like San Antonio, is the health of their veteran players. Over in Houston the Rockets have the potential to be in the elite group, but have struggled defensively so far this season. Dwight Howard is showing many of the same inconsistencies he displayed in Los Angeles last season and he’s not yet providing the interior defensive presence the Rockets desperately need. Houston can score points on anybody; the big question is whether or not they can defend like an NBA title contender. Right now the jury is still out.

On the Upswing: (Portland)

The Blazers are off to a fast start (5-2), although only one victory is over a legit playoff contender (San Antonio). That being said the Blazers look to be a club that can occupy the playoff position(s) that the Lakers and/or Denver may be vacating. LaMarcus Aldridge is one of the premier power forwards in the game, while Damian Lillard and Nicolas Batum are consistently improving their game. The Blazers have been efficient, reducing turnovers, and are second in the conference in field goal attempts per game. Their +4.0 scoring margin is good for 5th in the conference.

Bubble Teams: (Los Angeles Lakers, New Orleans)

Putting the Lakers in the bubble team category may be a stretch. Their success hinges on how close to .500 they are when Kobe Bryant returns. Los Angeles has improved their overall depth and the youth of their roster, but still lacks the quality depth of most playoff contenders. It’s questionable whether or not Steve Nash has anything left in the tank as he battles persistent injuries. If Nash can’t provide the minutes the Lakers need they may plummet down the standings. The Pelicans are an interesting club. They’ve had some good victories this season as well as some bad performances. They’ve injected some talent into their roster but it’s still not clear how the backcourt trio of Tyreke Evans, Eric Gordon, Jrue Holliday will co-exist due to their high ball usage rate. Inside though the Pelicans have the emerging Anthony Davis who’s quickly becoming the superstar many predicted. Davis alone could be the difference maker that vaults the Pelicans into playoff contention.

The Pretenders: (Sacramento, Denver)

The Sacramento Kings have a talented roster that once again looks like a bunch of spare parts. DeMarcus Cousins is one of the most talented big men in the game, putting together a solid season. His checkered past though makes it hard to rely on him day in and day out. Ben McLemore has great potential but he’s young and finding his place in the NBA. The Kings have nice depth inside and some solid role players, but due to the consistent roster overhaul it’s been hard for them to find consistency. They’ll be a lottery team again. Denver, a Western Conference power last season is off to a slow start in the post-George Karl era. Losing several key roster components, like Andre Iguodola, Corey Brewer and Kosta Koufus has disrupted their rotation. They still have Ty Lawson to lead the team but the recent injury to Javale McGee is another blow to their depth. Denver has a significant home court advantage at Pepsi Center that could make them a fringe playoff contender, but it’s hard to see them making much of a run.
Andrew Wiggins Contenders: (Utah)

The Jazz are the NBA’s worst right now. With Paul Millsap and Al Jefferson playing for other teams the Jazz are relying on the young of Derrick Favors, Gordon Hayward and Enes Kanter to provide the bulk of the scoring. The trio has potential but they’re young and overmatched against the rest of the Western Conference. Utah is solidly positioned to get a high lottery pick with the ability to add a significant piece next June.

By:Chris Michaels

The LA Clippers defeat the Utah Jazz to finish the year with the best possible way and record their 17th consecutive win

The LA Clippers defeat the Utah Jazz to finish the year with the best possible way and record their 17th consecutive win
Caron Butler with 29 points and 6/6 from beyond the arc lifted the Los Angeles Clippers over the Utah Jazz, 107-96. It was the second straight win in 3 days against Utah for LA, who have now won 17 in a row and finished the whole December unbeaten. Despite the difficulties they faced in the previous close game against the Jazz, this time the Clippers had no problem to smash their opponents. They now enter the New Year with the best momentum that any team has in the league and can finally praise themselves for their achievement.

Only two other teams in the entire NBA history have managed to stay unbeaten for an entire month, them being the 1995-96 San Antonio Spurs, which included Del Negro, and 1971-72 Los Angeles Lakers. Commenting on the run, All-Star guard Chris Paul commented “I am amazed because I haven’t done it since I’ve been in the league” while Head Coach Vinnie Del Negro stated “I want to do this every year. This has got to be a staple of how we go about doing our business. We’re thinking bigger than the streak.” It’s clear that despite of all the enthusiasm and the fireworks around the streak, the Coach tries to keep things under control so his team does not rest on it and keep pushing forward for the first games in 2013.

Butler, who led his team in scoring, had 17 points in the first 12 minutes going 5 from 5 beyond the 3 point-line. Paul finished with 19 points and 9 assists and Jamal Crawford had 19 off the bench. The Clippers managed to get a double digit win and score over 100 points even with Blake Griffin staying cold, just 7 points for him and 5 shooting attempts. DeAndre Jordan had an impressive performance with 14 points and 3 blocks, including one highlight spike stop to a layup attempt from Jamal Tinsley. He also had a couple of nice alley-hoop dunks plus he makes them look so easy, because with his long wingspan he can catch the ball literally from anywhere it’s thrown.

For the Utah Jazz it was Al Jefferson who led his team with 30 points and 8 rebounds, but this wasn’t enough for them to escape with a win. Gordon Hayward finished with 16 off the bench and Derrick Favors added 11.

The Clippers are now 25-6, 15-3 at home and they enter 2013 with the greatest expectations for more. They surely are one of the most enjoyable teams to watch, not only for the team’s fans, but for any basketball and sports fan.

This first week in the New Year the Clippers will have a tough schedule. They host the Denver Nuggets on Tuesday and then the Golden State Warriors. On Friday night they play as the away team against the Los Angeles Lakers and on Saturday they face the Warriors once again.

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Nash is back are the Lakers back on track?

Steve Nash back in action for the Lakers

After a long period of difficulties the Lakers got back in the victories this last week. Finally resurrection time may have come for LA, who last Thursday was at a tough position with a 9-14 record. 10 days and four wins after, the team has finally broken out of the slump and is happy to welcome Steve Nash back.

Nash, who missed 24 games with a broken leg returned in the starting lineup at Saturday’s match against the surprising Warriors. It has been a really long wait for the two-time MPV but his impact on the team’s playing style was obvious right from the start. He finished with 12 points to go along with many assists. But the truth is that the numbers don’t tell the whole story. The whole style changes on offense with Nash on the floor who does what he knows best, creating plays for his teammates and the Lakers in fact do have some of the greatest finishers in the league in Kobe Bryant and Dwight Howard.

The victories started even before Nash’s return. The Lakers survived in late game situations in most of their last wins. First one against the Wizards last Friday when they won 102-96 holding off a 27 point fourth quarter from their opponents. Lakers scored only 19 during the last 12 minutes. Next stop was Philadelphia against the Sixers, when LA broke out and won easily 111-98. Bryant finished had another high scoring game with 34 and Metta World Piece had a career high 16 rebounds to go along with 19 points, quite a performance for him. Then it was a comeback in the last quarter that saved the day for the Lakers, who took 101-100 the Bobcats at a game with a dramatic finale. The Bobcats had the chance to win the game but missed on 3 consecutive tries in the last 10 seconds thus throwing the victory to their opponents. Last game of the week came on Saturday night for the Lakers. It came down to the overtime but the Lakers escaped with a 118-115 win against the Warriors. It was another good game from Kobe Bryant who led all scorers with 34 points and of course noticeable for the night, Steve Nash’s return to the team.

The encouraging fact for Lakers fans is that things may actually get better for the team. Now, with Nash and also Gasol back from injuries, the team may show its real capabilities. Now it’s time for them to prove that the expectations during the off-season, when all the stars met in LA, were not too high. They are just one win behind the psychological border of 0.500 that could trigger a burst of momentum for the Lakers. They will surely need that going in 2013 and as playoff time is approaching. Of course there is a lot of work ahead and the road will not be easy for them.

Next up for the Lakers they play on Christmas day against the New York Knicks at home and then travel to Denver to face the Nuggets. Last game of the year is Friday night in front of the Staples Center crowd against the Portland Trailblazers.

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LA Clippers Returning to Playoffs for First Time Since 2006

Los Angeles Clippers Offical Partner Barrys Ticket Service

Los Angeles Clippers Offical Partner Barrys Ticket Service

The second-longest active postseason drought is over. The Clippers are officially in the NBA playoffs this year. They had more than just making the NBA playoffs on their minds after defeating the Oklahoma City Thunder Monday night,

Monday night’s heavyweight Western Conference bout ending in a surprising manner, as the LA Clippers beat the Oklahoma City Thunder, 92-77. The game locked up Lob City’s postseason bid, marking the first time the Clippers have made the playoffs since 2006.

Los Angeles was lead by Blake Griffin who had 17 points and 11 rebounds, but got some serious support from Nick Young off the bench who went for 19 points on 7-of-10 shooting and 3-of-4 from downtown.

The real turning point in the game came in the 3rd quarter where L.A. topped Oklahoma 23 to 14. Durant mustered 24 points, but James Hardin only had 12 while Russell Westbrook only managed nine points to go along with five turnovers.

The L.A. faithful were in attendance to celebrate their playoff qualifying night as the franchise enjoyed their 32nd consecutive sellout crowd.

There was a time, for example, the bulk of the team’s existence that simply making the NBA playoffs would have been the most a Clippers fan would dare to expect from a team that has finished with a record above .

The Clippers’ 2005-06 playoff appearance represents the only time they’ve won a playoff series while playing in Los Angeles, and even then they didn’t get beyond the second round.
The playoff berth was actually sealed in the first half when the Houston Rockets lost to the Denver Nuggets, but give the Clippers some style points for the win over the Thunder.

The Clippers rank first in the league in points per possession (PPP) on shots the ballhandler takes in the pick-and-roll, while Paul ranks sixth among all players. Point being, if Paul gets a favorable switch or the space to operate coming off a screen, he’s one of the best point producers in the league.

To properly blow up a pick-and-roll, you need to have mobile, intelligent big men. The Lakers are a perfect example of this. Pau Gasol is one of the best in the business at showing hard on a screen, then recovering properly. He’s a big reason the Lakers rank 9th in pick-and-roll ballhandler defense, even with the molasses-like duo of Derek Fisher and Steve Blake covering the ball most of the year.

Although they probably won’t meet in the first round, offensively the Clippers would love a matchup against the San Antonio Spurs, who rank as the league’s worst defensive team in PPP allowed to ballhandlers in the pick-and-roll. The Spurs have immobile bigs and lack the ability to switch their bigs on to guards — a huge reason why the previous meetings between these two teams have been so high scoring.

The Denver Nuggets would be another favorable matchup, as they check in as the 20th best team in spot-up PPP, and 23rd in 3-point percentage. However, both the Grizzlies and Nuggets pale in comparison to one of the best matchups for the Clippers and one of the worst shooting teams in the league — the Utah Jazz. The Jazz are 28th in the league in spot-up opportunities and 29th in 3-point shooting at a woeful 30.7 percent, which is almost ten percentage points lower than the first place Spurs. The Jazz are on the outside looking in at this point, but the Clippers would love to somehow see them in the first round.

The NBA playoffs begin April 28. The Clippers will play four of their remaining five games on the road, including visits to Denver, Phoenix and Atlanta before closing out the regular season April 25 in New York.

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Clippers Vs Nuggets at the Pepsi Center Sun Jan 29th Wrap Up

Clippers Vs Nuggets at the Pepsi Center Sun Jan 29th Wrap Up

The postgame L.A. Clippers locker room had an old Nuggets feel to it. The Los Angeles Clippers face a tough test Sunday night as they hit the road to face the red-hot Denver Nuggets at the Pepsi Center. The Nuggets have won six straight games and own the second best record in the Western Conference at 14-5. The Clippers, meanwhile, have lost nine straight games in Denver.

There, in the center, was Chauncey Billups, always the man of the moment in the Mile High City. Around him were all of the familiar media faces peppering him with questions about another night, another big shot, another big victory.

Only, this time, he left his old team with all the questions while he provided answers Sunday night.
In his first game back since being traded, Billups was every bit Mr. Big Shot as he and Chris Paul took over in the fourth quarter to outlast the Nuggets 109-105 at the Pepsi Center.

The Nuggets, who had been riding high on a six-game winning streak, saw that snapped in excruciating fashion. Down the stretch they
Nuggets center Timofey Mozgov dunks in the first quarter. More photos. (John Leyba, The Denver Post) simply didn’t make enough plays to get the job done. The Denver Nuggets were outscored 15-6 to end the game.

“They made a lot of shots,” said Nuggets coach George Karl of Billups and Paul, who combined to score 19 of the Clippers’ 32 points in the fourth. “I think it was pretty good defense. I’m pretty sure the video will show that. We can’t do much more.”

The fourth quarter was a wild, back-and-forth affair, each team making one effective play after another on the offensive end.

A Nene bucket gave the Nuggets a 99-94 lead before the Clippers answered with five straight points, punctuated by a Billups 3-pointer with 3:01 left to tie it up. Billups then put the Clippers ahead 102-99 with a three-point play.

Paul rolled in a free-throw line jumper with 1:26 and L.A. led 104-101. But two Nene buckets — both dunks — got the Nuggets in front 105-104.

Two Paul free throws with 35.9 seconds left put the Clippers back on top 106-105. The Nuggets missed a layup on their ensuing possession and fouled DeAndre Jordan after the Clippers came away with the rebound. Jordan made 1-of-2 from the charity stripe with 23.4 seconds to extend L.A.’s lead to 107-105.

After a timeout, Nene was called for an offensive foul with 18.1 seconds remaining, which was the biggest blow to the Nuggets’ rally hopes. The Nuggets fouled Paul with 17.2, and he made both to push the Clippers’ lead to four. A failed Nuggets possession after that sealed the team’s fate.

“We kept it close, kept it close,” Billups said. “And Chris was big for us in the fourth quarter, made a couple of plays … and that’s how you’ve got to win on the road.”
Billups returned to Denver in style. He scored a season-high 32 points, nailing six 3-pointers in the process. The Clippers drained 14 3-pointers as a team, outscoring the Nuggets 42-18 from the arc.

They had a really good percentage from 3-point, Nuggets forward Danilo Gallinari said. Chauncey ha an unbelievable game. They hit some tough shots and contested 3s.
It was a tough start in a tough stretch for the Nuggets. On Saturday afternoon, Karl gathered his team, lent perspective to their hot start and relayed a message of urgency about what they will face in the next 30 days.

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Los Angeles Clippers at Denver – Game Preview

Recent Games:

First meeting of the season. The teams split four games last season, with each winning on their home court.

 

  • November 5th, 2010 in Denver – Denver 111 – Clippers 94
  • December 3rd, 2010 in Denver – Denver 109 – Clippers 104
  • January 5th, 2011 in Los Angeles – Clippers 106 – Denver 93
  • March 5th, 2011 in Los Angeles – Clippers 100 – Denver 94

 

Summary:

The Clippers are 10-6 on the season. But of those 16 games, only five of them have been on the road (and one of those was in Los Angeles against the Lakers). Five road games is the fewest of any team in the NBA, and more importantly, the 28 they have yet to play is the most. So there’s that. The fact that the team is 1-4 in those five games is not good, but it’s not a huge concern, given the quality of the opponents in those losses. Unfortunately, that logic doesn’t bode well for tonight, against the 14-5 Nuggets, who are 7-2 in the mile high altitude. There is some good news though. The Clippers should be well rested for this game, coming off two days of rest. There is also reason to believe that the team will be hitting peak form at some point in the near future — they looked great in wins over the Heat and Lakers two weeks ago, before Chris was injured his hamstring. In the two games since his return, Paul has not shot well. Hopefully after a couple of games and two more days of practice, he’s getting the rust off and the team will start firing on all cylinders again. They looked great for a quarter against Memphis on Thursday, but even that was more about hot shooting than super shard execution. So the team’s best basketball is still ahead of them, but hopefully not too far away.

 

 

The Antagonist:

A year ago, the Nuggets starters featured Kenyon Martin, Carmelo Anthony and Chauncey Billups, and J.R. Smith was the sixth man. Now Anthony is in New York with the New York Knicks, Billups is with the Clippers, Smith is in China and Martin is waiting until February 15th to be a free agent after signing with and then leaving a Chinese team. The Nuggets were built around Anthony for years, and while the made the playoffs in each of the seven seasons he was in Denver, they also lost in the first round in six of those seasons.

Losing streak in Denver. The Clippers haven’t won in Denver in five full seasons. The last time they won a regular season game there was in January of 2006. They also won a playoff game a few months later. But it’s been one empty trip to the Mile High City after another since then.

Hot team. In their last game the Clippers played a Grizzlies team that had won seven of eight coming in. The Nuggets have won six straight and eight of nine. The Clippers just can’t get a break in terms of opponents. Oh, and their next three games after this are against Oklahoma City, at Utah and against these Nuggets again. Sheesh.

Twice in a week. The Clippers and Nuggets face each other twice this week, tonight and then again on Thursday. The Clippers have two games in the interim, the Nuggets just one.

Balance. About that balance: the Denver Nuggets have six players averaging double figures, with the highest being Gallinari at less than 18 a game. In fact, they have 8 players averaging between 8 and 18. Philadelphia has eight players between 9 and 16. Hat tip to citizen d2s4ui1 for catching my mistake there.

Lawson hurting. Nuggets point guard Ty Lawson, their second leading scorer, missed Friday’s win against Toronto with a sprained left ankle. Lawson told Chris Dempsey of the Denver Post that he plans to play tonight.

Billups in Denver. Chauncey Billups will be playing in Denver tonight for the first time since being traded away as part of the Carmelo Anthony deal. Billups is a Colorado native, who played his college ball in Boulder and had wanted to retire as a Nugget. He’ll no doubt receive a very warm welcome upon his return to Denver, where he played four seasons in two different stints. Billups was part of the Denver team that went to the Western Conference finals, they’re deepest playoff run since the mid 80s.

Matchups. It’s hard to figure how the matchups will go tonight. For one thing, you never quite know how George Karl will distribute minutes among the 10 or 11 guys in his rotation. Nene will begin the game defending Blake Griffin, which could give Blake trouble. Caron Butler will need to take the very talented Gallinari as seriously as he would Kobe Bryant. Afflalo is a big guard who will be a handful for Billups, But the key matchup will be Lawson versus Chris Paul. CP3 probably needs to dominate that matchup for the Clippers to win tonight.

Not counting the NBA All Star Game break, they’ll get one more such break the entire remainder of the season, and that one comes in April, between games 63 and 64. Great news for fans who don’t like to wait too long between games. Bad news for tired players and coaches who need time to prep for opponents.

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