April 7th, 2012
Preview: Sacramento Kings At L.A. Clippers
When: 10:30 PM ET, Saturday, April 7, 2012
Where: Staples Center, Los Angeles, California
THE STORY: A lot has happened in the two days since the Sacramento Kings and the Los Angeles Clippers met. Kings center DeMarcus Cousins was fined $25,000 on Friday for publicly criticizing the officials and also called Clippers forward Blake Griffin “an actor” and said the All-Star was “babied.” “He’s the poster child of the league,” Cousins said. “He sells tickets, but he’s babied. Bottom line.” The teams meet Saturday at Staples Center to complete the home-and-home as the Clippers look to sweep the three-game season series.
TV: 10:30 ET, CSN CA (Kings), FS West (Clippers)
ABOUT THE KINGS (19-36): With 12, Cousins is one technical away from an automatic one-game suspension, but he doesn’t plan to change the way he plays – especially tonight. Cousins fouled out of Thursday’s game after playing just 18 minutes. He scored only eight points and did not attempt a free throw. The Kings are basically out of playoff contention, so playing spoiler is something to which they can cling. “It’s going to be intense,” said Kings guard Tyreke Evans. “(There) might be some people coming back with bruises.”
ABOUT THE CLIPPERS (33-22): The Clippers have won seven of eight and will try to cut into the Lakers’ lead in the Pacific Division. Griffin refused to get into a war of words with Cousins. Coach Vinny Del Negro praised Griffin’s self-control. “I thought it got a little physical there,” Del Negro said of Thursday’s matchup. “But Blake’s doing a good job with that, keeping his composure. That was big.” Clippers guard Mo Williams, who has missed eight games because of a sprained left big toe, hopes to play Saturday night.
1. Sacramento leading scorer Marcus Thornton likely will miss a third consecutive game because of a bruised left calf.
2. The Kings were just 4 of 17 (23.5 percent) from behind the 3-point line.
3. The Clippers have won four of the last five meetings against the Kings in Los Angeles, including the last two
PREDICTION: Clippers 103, Kings 99
This is the last meeting between the Clippers and Kings for the 2011 – 2012 NBA Regular season.
March 13th, 2012
CELTICS Vs CLIPPERS 94, 85: Paul Pierce scored 25 points and Kevin Garnett had 21 as visiting Boston held off the Clippers one night after blowing a late lead against the Lakers.
The game also was the first matchup between Rajon Rondo and Chris Paul since the Celtics tried to acquire Paul from the New Orleans Hornets for Rondo.
Rondo got the better of Paul with 12 points and 10 assists. Paul had 14 points and five assists but was 3 of 12 from the field.
Ray Allen 15 for the Celtics, who used a late 13-2 run to earn a key split in Los Angeles after losing a five-point lead in their 97-94 loss to the Lakers on Sunday.
Blake Griffin had 24 points and nine rebounds for the Clippers, who are 4-8 in their last 12 games and 0-2 on their six-game homestand. Mo Williams scored 21 off the bench and DeAndre Jordan had 13 rebounds.
Paul was quiet through three quarters with two points, but recorded a three-point play and stepped back for a 3-pointer to pull the Clippers to 73-71.
Bobby Simmons, who just signed a second 10-day contract, gave the Clippers a 78-74 lead on a 3-pointer with 4:22 remaining. Rondo quickly tied it with back-to-back baskets.
Pierce gave the Celtics an 83-78 lead with a clutch 3-pointer from the top of the key at the 2:47 mark. After the Clippers got to 87-84, Garnett made a 21-foot turnaround jumper with 38 seconds left for a five-point lead.
The Clippers finished the first half on an 18-6 run and took a 48-39 halftime lead. The Celtics outscored the Clippers 23-13 in the third quarter to take a 62-61 lead into the fourth quarter.
GAME NOTEBOOK: Kenyon Martin, who sat out the last two games because of bruised ribs, wore a flak jacket and had two rebounds in nine minutes. … The Celtics managed only 11 bench points … Los Angeles outrebounded Boston 45-31.
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February 28th, 2012
Minnesota Timberwolves vs. Los Angeles Clippers
NBA / Western Conference
Staples Center, Los Angeles, CA
Tuesday, February 28th, 2012. 10:30 PM EST
Analysis of the Minnesota Timberwolves
While their opponents on Tuesday night may have something to say about it, the Timberwolves have gone from a team few cared about to arguably the most fun team to watch in the NBA. After only winning 17 games last year (in a full 82 game season), the T-Wolves matched their win total in just the first half of this season going 17-17 and staying in the playoff hunt out west. The combination of PF Kevin Love and rookie PG Ricky Rubio seems to be the spark this young squad needed to become relevant again.
Analysis of the Los Angeles Clippers
As good a PG/PF combo Rubio and Love are, the Clippers have them beat with All-Stars Chris Paul and Blake Griffin. The two have put on a show this season combining for 40 points per game on average leading their squad to a 20-11 record in the first part of the season. Currently they’re sitting in the 3rd seed in the Western Conference and will have to at least match their performance during the first half of 2012 in order to keep that seed or possibly move up, something that won’t be easy in the same division as the rival Lakers.
Timberwolves: PF Kevin Love
Love is the star of this team, though he doesn’t make very much noise about it. The young power forward is 4th in the NBA in points per game (25) and 2nd in rebounds (14), making him one of the most effective player sin the game. A tough matchup against Griffin awaits, but Griffin’s focus on offense over defense may be enough for Love to put up a dominating performance
Clippers: PG Chris Paul
Paul is the field general for the Clippers and is responsible for the nightly performance of his team. He’ll get a favorable matchup (as he always does) against Rubio, but that doesn’t mean the night will be his. Rubio is in the top 5 in assists and steals in the NBA (just as Paul is) so a night off for Paul will absolutely mean a loss for the Clips.
The Clippers are a decent team in preventing turnovers, only averaging 14.2 each game (6th in the league). The T-Wolves average 16.2 per game though, 28th in the league. Those 2 turnovers may be the ~5 points that down the Timberwolves in LA, so stopping that from happening will have to be a priority for them.
When these two met in Los Angeles earlier this season Love hit a 3-pointer with no time left to push the Timberwolves to a big win in OT. You have to feel that coming off of the All-Star break both teams will be little rusty but that the Clippers will have the edge due to their depth and talent advantage. The Timberwolves already proved they can beat these guys, but 2 wins against the Clippers in LA is probably 1 too much for this season.
Prediction = Los Angeles Clippers: 95 – Minnesota Timberwolves: 88
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February 26th, 2012
Friday night the NBA hosted a number of events, none more interesting than the 2012 Sprint NBA All-Star Celebrity Game (5 p.m. | ESPN) and BBVA Rising Stars Challenge (7 p.m. | TNT).
Back in my day All-Star Friday night would be a place where they’d just talk to the All-Stars on camera, live, and get Karl Malone mad. The Celebrity Game and “Rookie” game have both gone through a number of changes over the years. This year in the Celebrity game they augmented the rosters with some former NBA-All Stars (passed their prime), and one WNBA notable (Tamika Catchings). The coaches for the two teams (somehow separated into “East” and “West”) were Orlando Magic Dwight Howard and Oklahoma City Thunder Kevin Durant respectively. I really had no idea who the celebrities in the celebrity game were except for the Secretary of Education Arne Duncan and Kevin Hart.
There were even more changes in the Rookie game. This year they put all the rookies and sophomores into a pool, and had Shaquille O’Neal and Charles Barkley alternate picks to fill out the two teams. The rosters used to only be 8 players strong, but because Jeremy Lin is a huge story right now, they increased the roster size to 10 players. In the older format it was very rare for the rookie team to beat the sophomore team. This way seems a bit more interesting though; you know, provided that the people making the picks actually know what they are doing. Ex Los Angeles Lakers Shaq’s first two picks, LA Clippers Blake Griffin and Jeremy Lin, both hardly played at all during the game. On the other hand, Chuck’s first two picks dominated when they were in the game. Early on DeMarcus Cousins was dunking on everybody, and his first pick Kyrie Irving won the MVP of the game (He went 8-8 from downtown). Also the two teams had every uneven coaching. Shaq’s team was coached by an assistant coach for the Chicago Bulls and Steve Kerr (TNT). The Chicago Bulls assistant was coaching in a game where no one played defense, so he was wasted; and Kerr was a GM but never a coach. On Charles’ team the two coaches were Maurice Cheeks (Oklahoma City Thunder assistant coach), and Mike Fratello (TNT). Mo Cheeks and The Czar were both NBA head coaches — and Mike was totally into the game actually coaching.
I’m having difficulty finding an actual Box Score of the game, but Gordon Hayward finished the game with 14 points, a pair of blocks, and countless nice passes. His outside shot was still missing; however he got to do a little bit of everything and he looked like he was having fun. I was particularly impressed with his defensive rebounds — which he snagged due to his length and athleticism, I would like to see more of that for the Jazz. Derrick Favors also added 14 points, in 14 minutes according to John Hollinger. He made pretty much all of his shots, including all of his free throws — and he was the only guy out there on Chuck’s team who failed to convert his thinking into “Exhibition Game Mode”. In a way, he was the analog to Shaq’s team’s dour blue collar bigman Greg Monroe. They both played back to the basket, had some dunks, but many more of their finishes were fundamentally sound. And they both played post defense, instead of just letting people dunk it. Monroe, of course, stole the game and the highlight of the game when — in super-duper garbage time, actually disrupted a potential John Wall Jam, and turned it into a full court assist with seconds left on the clock.
Both of our guys played well off the bench, and seem to be enjoying themselves. Hopefully they can get more playing time together in the second half of the season. I think the last time I watched the rookie game was when Andrei Kirilenko was a sophomore, and he was the only guy playing defense for his team. Nice to know that few things have changed for the mentality of our players.
February 24th, 2012
NBA All-Star Weekend 2012 officially kicks off Friday in Orlando. Here’s a schedule of all the top-tier All-Star Weekend events.
Usually known as the Rookie/Sophomore Game, the 2012 edition of the Rising Stars Challenge is different because TNT analysts Shaquille O’Neal and Charles Barkley selected the rosters from a pool of the top first- and second-year players. Reigning Rookie of the Year winner Blake Griffin of the Los Angeles Clippers and New York Knicks sensation Jeremy Lin headline Team Shaq. Top overall draft choice Kyrie Irving of the Cleveland Cavaliers and versatile big-man DeMarcus Cousins of the Sacramento Kings anchor Team Chuck.
All-Star Saturday Night opens with the Haier Shooting Stars, which pits the defending champion Team Atlanta against Team Orlando, Team New York, and Team Texas.
The next event is the Taco Bell Skills Challenge, in which six of the league’s top point guards battle to complete an obstacle course that tests their dribbling, passing, and shooting ability. Steph Curry of the Golden State Warriors, the defending champion, will take on Irving, Tony Parker of the San Antonio Spurs, John Wall of the Washington Wizards, Russell Westbrook of the Oklahoma City Thunder, and Deron Williams of the New Jersey Nets.
The Foot Locker Three-Point Contest follows the Skills Challenge in which Magic forward Ryan Anderson will challenge the defending champion James Jones of the Miami Heat. Other competitors include Mario Chalmers of the Miami Heat, Kevin Durant of Oklahoma City, Kevin Love of the Minnesota Timberwolves, and Anthony Morrow of the New Jersey Nets. Durant replaces Atlanta Hawks swingman Joe Johnson, who will sit out the contest due to injury.
The Sprite Slam Dunk Contest concludes All-Star Saturday Night. This year’s dunk showdown features four players who have never before competed; it’s all fresh faces. In addition, the dunk contest will debut a new, one-round format in which each competitor has the opportunity to execute three dunks. The field is Chase Budinger of the Houston Rockets, Jeremy Evans of the Utah Jazz, Paul George of the Indiana Pacers, and Derrick Williams of Minnesota. Evans replaces Knicks rookie Iman Shumpert, who had to bow out of the competition due to injury.
The main event of the weekend finally tips Sunday evening. Magic center Dwight Howard, the leading vote-getter among all players, will start for the East, while Los Angeles Lakers guard Kobe Bryant will tie a record for consecutive All-Star appearances with 14.
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February 20th, 2012
In a Western Conference battle, where the winner would emerge as the #2 team, Tony Parker led his San Antonio Spurs into Staples Center, riding a nine game winning streak. The Clippers took a quick 15-4 lead, and led 26-15 at the end of the first period behind 12 Blake Griffin points.
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Parker scored 8 of his 30 in the second period, including a last-second layup, and led a San Antonio Spurs run to take a 45-43 lead going into the locker room Then, Parker came out in the third and dropped 8 more points in the first 5 minutes of the second half as the Clippers fell
behind by 15, 65-50.
Enter Randy Foye. Finally with production fitting of a starter, Foye scored 13 of the Clippers first 15 second-half points, and hit another three pointer to tie the game at 65. Little-used sophomore guard Eric Bledsoe even got some extended run in the third, and made
quite an impact. He played the last 6 minutes of the period, and logged 3 rebounds and 2 assists, and a lot of good defense. Bled also fed Blake Griffin on a monster dunk to take the lead, 67-65.
Fast forward to five minutes left in the final quarter, and Caron Butler has just finished off a 4-point play to give LAC a three point lead, 85-82. And then two of the best teams in the world played basketball. And Tony Parker showed me something that I didn’t think he had in him. He just scored, and scored, and scored. And I don’t know if I remember him missing all game long. The boxscore says he missed 11 shots. I don’t believe it. It felt like every single play Tony Parker was either shooting a layup or an open 15 foot jumper.
There’s 1:38 to go in the game. Chris Paul scores 4 quick points. LAC leads 91-90. Now San Antonio has the ball. Tony Parker draws a foul, and takes a one-point lead with 33 seconds remaining. Chris Paul hits a pair of free throws. Tim Duncan uncharacteristically misses a layup. Paul hits another couple of free shots. The Clippers lead by 3 with 12.6 seconds remaining. But never underestimare Pop. I mean, the guy is the greatest basketball coach of his generation.
And he draws up a play to get Gary Neal, 39% three point shooter, an open shot. The young Neal fumbled the ball, and Rand Foye dives for the ball and calls a timout. The Clippers lead by 3 with the ball and only 9.5 seconds remaining. The Clippers are in second place in the conference. The Clippers win.
Until the unthinkable. Ryan Gomes rushes the inbounds pass to Chris Paul, and, in order to avoid a backcourt violation, Paul throws the ball up. Neal, the goat from the previous play, becomes a hero, hitting a trey to tie the game and force five extra minutes. I missed the play the first time through. Re-watching the fourth quarter again with my dad, I looked away. I couldn’t watch it.
How could Los Angeles be anything but lethargic in this extra period? The game was won, and now you have to play another period? Well, the Clippers never really woke up. Five overtime points, and only a single made field goal. Despite the struggles, Chris Paul had a shot at a three pointer to force another overtime. But he missed. The clock ran out. The Clippers lost. San Antonio beat the best team in the Pacific Division. And that was all she wrote.
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February 17th, 2012
Clippers 74 Trail Blazers 71
Thursday, February 16, 2012 7:30 PM
Location – Rose Garden, Portland, Oregon
Officials – #41 Ken Mauer, #44 Eli Roe, #65 Sean Wright
Attendance – 20665
CLIPPERS 74, TRAIL BLAZERS 71: Chris Paul scored all 13 of his points in the fourth quarter and Los Angeles sent Portland to its fourth consecutive home loss.
Blake Griffin had 21 points and 14 rebounds – his seventh double-double in eight games – as the Clippers rallied from an 18-point, third-quarter deficit to halt a six-game losing streak in Portland.
Paul was scoreless on 0-for-7 shooting through three quarters, but he scored nine points in a 12-2 run as the Clippers overtook the weary Blazers, who were playing for the third time in as many nights.
Mo Williams hit Los Angeles’ first 3-pointer with 3:50 to play to claim the lead for good and Paul followed with another shot from behind the arc for a 70-66 lead with 3:08 remaining.
Jamal Crawford and Nicolas Batum scored 19 points apiece for the Portland Trail Blazers, which scored only 28 points in the second half and lost fourth straight at home for the first time since January 2007.
The Trail Blazers had scored the first seven points of the third quarter to build its biggest lead at 50-32, but the Clippers answered with a 20-10 spurt to get within 60-52 entering the final 12 minutes.
Batum scored 15 first-quarter points to get Portland off to a quick start en route to taking a 43-32 halftime lead.
GAME NOTEBOOK: Los Angeles scored a season-low 12 points in the second quarter. The 32 halftime points also were a season worst. … Portland is hoping that NBA All-Star LaMarcus Aldridge will be available for Saturday’s game against the Atlanta Hawks. Aldridge, who is dealing with a sprained ankle, is averaging a career-high 22.6 points per game. … The Clippers were 2 of 17 from behind the arc.
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February 7th, 2012
The L.A. Clippers’ starting Shooting Guard Chauncey Billups’ season is over. The rehab will likely take around 8 months, but the former 2004 Finals MVP has vowed to return to the NBA. He told Yahoo! Sports that “has been the story of my career: coming back, fighting, scrapping…” On the season, he is averaging 15 points, 4 assists, 2.4 threes on 36% FG shooting, his second lowest shooting percentage since 1999 when he only played 13 games. Despite poor shooting, Billups has become the archetypal “been there, done that” guy on a young Clippers team. Between him and Caron Butler, the only two players to have NBA championship rings, they really have seen just about everything — including the rise and fall of Allen Iverson, the final curtain call of Michael Jordan, the slow decline of Tim Duncan, and the coronation of a King.
The injury came in Tuesday’s win against the Orlando Magic. Everyone knew right away that it could be the Achilles tendon and began wishing Chauncey the best of luck as the organization waited for an MRI. In his stead, Mo Williams and Randy Foye must step up. Together, they are more than capable of reproducing his statistical output; but can they do the “Big Shot” when it counts? For Blake Griffin and DeAndre Jordan, this probably means a slight dip in the number of easy, unexpected lobs-turned-dunks, as Billups played Point Guard for most of his career. Fans should look forward to seeing him on the sidelines where he will carefully mentor CP3 in the playoffs. In recent years Billups has jumped from Detroit, his spiritual home, to Denver, the city from which he hails, to New York, the city that ultimately cut him just as it was forming its own “Big __ something”, to Los Angeles where he hoped to take yet another unlikely team all the way. Good luck, Chauncey. Everyone loves you.
Los Angeles Clippers Tickets are available for all Clippers Games. Clippers Vs Spurs Tickets for the showdown on Feb 18th at 12:30, Clippers Vs Nuggets Tickets for Feb 22nd at 7:30 and Clippers Vs Lakers Tickets for April 4th 7:30 are just some of the BIG Clippers games coming up at the STAPLES Center.
February 6th, 2012
With the Kenyon Martin signing done, the Los Angeles Clippers have obtained one more big body to help contend with the L.A. Lakers’ big front court in the future Battle of Los Angeles Now, both teams are seeking to add yet more depth in order to bring home the bacon. The returning players from overseas, like K-Mart, are one possible avenue for each team. Everyday, it seems, the Lakers are rumored to be interested in so and so, or so and so is rumored to be demanding a trade to the Lakers (see Orlando Magic Dwight Howard). Until recently, I cannot ever recall a single player either demand a trade to the Clippers or hope that the Clippers picked them up off of the waivers. However, that has all changed with the formation of Lob City through the acquisitions of Chauncey Billups, Chris Paul, and even Caron Butler, who now has an NBA championship ring. Not only are players hoping that the Clippers might take them in, but are actually dreaming about it. Even Dwight Howard, arguably the best Center in the league, has persistently been rumored, now, to want to end up with the Clippers. While that may or may not be true in reality, the media has crowned the Clippers as the next Big Thing.
Out of the available pool of free agents, including those who are currently overseas, who is the best fit for either the Clippers or the Lakers to put either team over the top? Starting with the China-boys, this analysis may become polarizing quickly. First up is J.R. Smith. Two weeks ago he annihilated the Chinese league for 60 points on 14 of 18 treys. Qingdao will probably have to sell their team and give up now like the Seattle SuperSonics did. J.R. Smith, one of the streakiest and most annoying players in the NBA (and its sister-leagues) today, probably set back the Qingdao team a decade with that explosion. J.R. Smith
Not two weeks ago did J.R. Smith remind the NBA of his talents. He exploded for 60 points over Qingdao in the Chinese league, drilling 14 of 18 three pointers in the process. Now, everyone knows J.R. Smith can shoot the ball and shoot it well. Everyone also knows that he can dunk the ball and dunk it well. But his off the court behavior and me-first attitude on the court could end up being more of a burden than a blessing to the team that lands him this coming week. The Lakers want to sign Smith to complement Kobe and finally get someone to hit a perimeter shot. While I love Matt Barnes, he is a far cry form the player who regularly turned it on for Don Nelson in Golden State a few years back. And while I love Ron Artest (read: Metta World Peace), he has always been a chucker and a sort of offensive clunker. He still brings it defensively and is vital to their success, but for as much as a chastise J.R. Smith, I’d still rather have him taking ill-advisde shots than Metta World Peace. The Clippers are also interested but since they’re already defensively inept in the backcourt (largely due to a lack of size), adding Smith would only make them defensively worse. Also, there are likely not enough shots to go around on the perimeter between Cp3, Billups, Foye (a chucker), and Mo Williams (another chucker). What the Clippers need is a real backup SF (or even starting SF). If the Lakers sign Smith, I’d give it a B+ signing (only if Kobe can keep J.R. in line). For the Clippers: C-.
Taking a look at the list of domestic players, the only one who really stands out for either team is Gilbert Arenas. While Larry Hughes’ teardrop tatted beneath his eye does stand out, unfortunately his game does not. Arenas so desperately wants to play for any L.A. team in his hometown that he’s scheduled his own public workout for later in this week. Arenas was last seen sporting an ill-advised beard and a shaky jumpshot in Orlando last year, and the fact that no team has yet signed the enigmatic combo-guard is not a good sign. Last year he played 25 minutes off the bench behind such wonders as Jameer Nelson and Jason and Quentin Richardson. What? If Agent Zero cannot even displace any of those three chuckers, who is to say that he can displace any of the Clippers’ chuckers, who are actually playing at a fantastic level right now (see: Mo Williams). The Lakers could use someone to create offense, but not someone to dribble out the shot clock. I’d give the Clippers signing Arenas a D- and the Lakers signing him a C+.
The last candidate is Wilson Chandler, who may or may not ever get out of his contract in China. Chandler is a young player with a multifaceted game. For some reason, he reminds me of Danny Granger, although he’s never really had the chance to put up Granger-like numbers. Chandler is not phenomenal at any one thing but is pretty good at most of them. The Lakers don’t exactly need another wing to steal shots, but if Chandler could be used to generate legitimate offense off the bench (that does not come from off-balanced three pointers), then he might be a good signing. However, he would likely command too much money for the Lakers. The Clippers could also really use him, as his game would readily remedy a lot of the penetration problems the Clippers currently have (and also move Caron Butler to the bench where he belongs). But Chandler would probably cost too much for them, too. That being said, I’d give each team an A- for acquiring Chandler. In the end, though, the Lakers ought to refrain from acquiring anymore older talent and begin looking at younger talent. Maybe let the Mini-Mamba loose. The Clippers should stand-pat and let the team gel first before acquiring anyone else.
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January 30th, 2012
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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