When Blake Griffin smacked hard onto the Staples Center hardwood early in what would become a dominant third quarter by our Nuggets, I knew last night's game was over. Whether it was the Clippers, playing their fourth game in five nights against tough opponents, had simply run out of gas or whether it was the Nuggets, playing like crap for two straight games against tough opponents, had simply had enough of the poor play and the naysaying from Nuggets Nation, we won't know for sure.
But regardless, with their 112-91 victory the Nuggets saved face after a bad week thus far and inched a little bit ahead of the Clippers in the overall Western Conference standings.
Unfortunately, because the Clippers were clearly exhausted we can't read much into this game other than the obvious observation: the Nuggets' depth was too much for the Clippers to handle, especially when fatigue kicked in. And don't let the box score fool you that shows the Clippers' bench scoring 33 points to the Nuggets' bench's 39 ... most of that production from the Clips came during meaningless garbage time.
When not playing a fourth game in five nights, the Clippers remain a team to be reckoned with. But this lockout-shortened season will serve up many four-in-fives, and seeing the debacle last night means the Clippers might slip a bit in the standings if they can't weather the scheduling. Conversely, the Nuggets - purposefully or not - were built for this lockout schedule. And while the Nuggets aren't above getting tired themselves, they can handle the schedule better than most - if not all - of their Western Conference counterparts.
Last night's outcome should have restored (some) faith that the Nuggets will do just fine in the regular season. Post-season success, however, will be a different matter altogether and I maintain my prediction that the Nuggets and Clippers will see each other at some point during the playoffs. And there's no doubt that Griffin will remember Mozgov putting him on his ass in that third quarter.
(On a side note, we apologize for the technical problems SBNation was having last night throughout the game and after the game. We believe the issues have been fixed.)
Non-Stiff(s) of the Game
Danilo Gallinari and Ty Lawson: Remember when we collectively remarked about how much not having Lawson hurt the Nuggets when they lost to the Clippers on Sunday? Lawson killed the Clips last night with his frenetic pace and combining that with Gallo making 70% of his shots proved to be too much for the Clippers to handle.
Stiff of the Game
Chauncey Billups: The effects of four games in five nights were most evident with Billups, who looked exhausted from the get-go and managed to connect on just two of his nine field goal attempts. And defensively, Billups couldn't handle Lawson, Andre Miller or Arron Afflalo (who finally had a decent game!). The Clippers would have been better off sitting Billups and giving Mo Williams his minutes.
Don't read too much into last night's game. The Nuggets were the beneficiaries of a scheduling oddity that the Clippers couldn't overcome. The real test comes tonight when the Nuggets are on a back-to-back and their opponent - the Lakers - are the rested squad.