A nice 15 point win for the Nuggets this evening against the Los Angeles Clippers. Let's get the excuses out of the way early. No Jamal Crawford for the Clippers. Their private charter plane and luxury hotels didn't provide adequate rest after their late night game in L.A. on March 6th against the Bucks. Chris Paul didn't even want to try to win this game. Blake Griffin was so disinterested that he tried to get a few slices of the pizza George Karl ordered over on the sideline. I may have made up those last two sentences.
Before the game, Steve Kerr and the TNT crew tossed out a crazy stat: the Nuggets are 71-13 over the past five seasons when their opponent comes to town on the second of a back-to-back. That record has now been pushed to 72-13. That's just about as good as the 72-10 Chicago Bulls. Pretty special.
George Karl takes a lot of flack for being the one constant for the first-round playoff exits - so he also deserves the credit for the 72-13 record over his past five seasons with the Nuggets. Whatever the case, he gets his team to put teams away when they should put them away.
The Clippers wanted this game. They needed this game. The season series now belongs to the Nuggets (2-1). The Nuggets are now two games behind the Clippers in the loss column and three games behind the Grizzlies.
Vinny Del Negro implemented a zone defense for large stretches of this contest and it didn't phase Denver much. The Nuggets shot a remarkable 55.8% from the field (43-77), 47.8% from three (11-23) and 83.3% from the foul line (only 10-12). The Clippers did a nice job of keeping the pace of the game slowed down in the first half, but like we've seen many times this season - the Nuggets made some halftime adjustments.
The biggest adjustment just seemed to be a more focused defense and a bigger effort to push the pace. The hot shooting was an added bonus and proved too much for the Clippers. Without Crawford, it was Matt Barnes trying to pick up the scoring. He was 6-12 in the first half for 15 points, but cooled off in the second half where he was 2-8 (0-3 from deep) for just 4 points. Barnes finished the night 8-20 (0-5 from deep) for 19 points and had the most shot attempts for the Clips -- not what you want to see if you are a Clips fan.
The Nuggets were carried offensively by Ty Lawson who had 21 points, 11 assists, 6 rebounds and 0 turnovers and Danilo Gallinari who put up 20 points, 6 assists and 5 rebounds. Kenneth Faried chalked up his 27th double-dip of the season with 11 points and 10 rebounds and the bench mob of Corey Brewer (11 points), Andre Miller (12) and Wilson Chandler (12) combined for 35 points.
JaVale McGee played just 14 minutes and took only one shot on the night -- an odd floater from the free throw line -- where he tried to post-up too far away from the hoop. McGee did contribute some nice defense with 2 blocks and 2 rebounds. Kosta Koufos outplayed his teammate, but was just 3-3 from the field -- including this jam:
The biggest thing we saw tonight: Andre Iguodala's defense on Chris Paul. Iggy put up 14 points, 7 assists, 3 rebounds, 2 steals and 1 block while holding Paul to a quiet 16 points and 10 assists. This wasn't the usual game where Paul tends to dominate the Nuggets. He was still effective, but putting the large Iguodala on him not only made him work hard on offense, but it allowed Lawson to breath on defense and focus on his offensive game. This is the luxury of having Iguodala and how it can have a positive impact on for the team.
Big win for the Nuggets tonight. They didn't allow the Clippers any hope of winning this one and controlled the second half to the tune of a 58-43 scoring advantage -- including holding the Clips to 26 points in the third (so-so) and 17 points in the fourth (excellent).
Views you can use:
-Ty Lawson with his 7th career game with 10+ assists and 0 turnovers. Courtesy of TNT.
-The Nuggets scored 46 points in the paint and shot just 12 free throws on the night. Either the Clips were not trying to protect the rim or the Nuggets are not getting calls they normally get.
-The Clippers had 7 offensive boards in the first half. The Nuggets held the Clips to just 3 offensive boards in the second half.
-Wilson Chandler is back! And the Nuggets bench mob is awesome!
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