Outscored by 10 in the first quarter, the Nuggets let the Clippers blow past them and effectively put the game away by the start of the fourth quarter. In an unsettling, recurring theme, there was little effort and almost no energy from the team tonight, and the Clippers capitalized on the Nuggets' 18 turnovers.
In that first frame, Kenneth Faried tweaked his ankle 3 minutes in, and would not return for the remainder of the game. The Nuggets clearly missed Faried's energy throughout the contest, but the writing was on the wall early in this one. Despite the Nuggets closing the game to 6 points to start the third quarter, the Clippers on two days of rest took care of business at home and choked the life out of the Nuggets by the end of the third quarter, leading the Nuggets by 19. Quite a contrast to a Nuggets team content to drop games at home to the likes of the Utah Jazz and Phoenix Suns when rested.
Led by Jamal Crawford's 27 points, the Clippers simply overpowered the Nuggets all game. The Nuggets were tired, intimidated and lacked competitive fire all game. To win on the road in the NBA, you generally need to keep the score going into the 4th quarter within 10 points, and the Nuggets were down by almost double that. The Clippers hit 100 points with 3:31 to play and "Lawler's Law" (the first team to score 100 points wins the game) was never in doubt. The Nuggets shot just 35.2% from the floor (20% from 3), were outscored in the paint 38-36 and were out-assisted 26-16.
The Nuggets are in a bad place right now, seemingly eons removed from their seven-game win streak where they seemed unbeatable. They've dropped three of their four most recent games at home - two of which they should have won - and submitted a terrible effort on the road against the Clippers tonight. Faried's ankle tweak is unlikely to help matters as he will likely miss at least a few games recovering from the injury, placing even more pressure on the Nuggets embattled frontcourt. For what it's worth, Timofey Mozgov turned in his finest effort in a while, scoring 15 points and grabbing 9 rebounds in 26 minutes, but it simply wasn't enough against Blake Griffin's 24 points and 16 boards. Even though Nuggets fans were treated to a Quincy Miller sighting, it was very difficult to watch this team continue to struggle to do much of anything on either end of the court.
Lately, the Nuggets haven't been able to defend anyone: in games that they've won this year, they've held their opponents to an average of 95 points, and in losses, their opponents have scored over 106. The last five Nuggets opponents have all scored at least 102 points, and, sure enough, the Nuggets are 1-4 in that span. Shaw and the Nuggets must get their defensive minds right if they hope to stay in the playoff picture out West. With contests approaching against the Warriors, Grizzlies and Heat, the Nuggets must figure out what's gone wrong and right the ship heading into 2014.
Another tough night for the young Nuggets. The Nuggets will next play against the Golden State Moles in the Pepsi Center on Monday, December 23rd at 7:00 PM MST.
Opposition's Take: Clips Nation