This game definitely mattered a lot more for the Clippers, fighting for a potential second seed in the Western Conference playoffs. To the Nuggets, tonight was just a continuation of an extended 2015-2016 preseason.

First Quarter

– No Ty Lawson, no Danilo Gallinari tonight, who are being held out for “rest reasons”. Definitely the sign of the second to last game of the season.

– The pace of the game is good, though Gary Harris is getting himself repeatedly burned by threes from J.J. Redick. Gotta stay tighter on defense than that, Gary.

– Gary is 3/4 after a long three but Redick responds with another long shot. Redick is 5/8 with 12 points…and 2:45 to go in the first. This could be a long game if the Nuggets aren't able to contain J.J.

J.J. Hickson barely draws iron on a turnaround fadeaway in the post, guarded by Blake Griffin. It would be frustrating if I wasn’t already so resigned to how bad of a player J.J. Hickson is.

A sloppy, bad shot-hoisting first quarter featuring windmill dunks by DeAndre Jordan, endless long jumpers and no defense to speak of from either squad. The teams enter the second quarter tied 31-31.

Second Quarter

– Gary Harris has 11 points and is 3 of 5 from downtown. Definitely feels like a possible breakout game for the youngster.

– The teams trade buckets and imitations of caring on defense. Hedo Turkoglu is out there with jacking up 25-footers with 18 seconds on the shot clock. At least Will Barton keeps aggressively driving into the paint.

– Even though stats don’t reflect it, Erick Green has filled in for Ty Lawson admirably. He’s hit a couple of pretty jumpers and has played with energy. I remain concerned that his wiry frame couldn’t hang with the bigger point guards in the league. Andre Miller would post up Green like Erick had an all-day all you can eat hotdog buffet sign hanging from his neck.

– Two missed alley oops by both teams. On consecutive possessions. Watch your drinks, folks!

The Nuggets carry a 3-point lead into halftime, 57-54, behind Wilson Chandler’s 16 points and Gary Harris’s 11 (his highest first half point total as a pro). While the Clippers are giving full run to their starters, their 9 first half turnovers are keeping the Nuggets in the game even without Lawson and Gallo. The Clippers didn’t seem to take the Nuggets seriously to begin the game, and it could come back to haunt them.

Third Quarter

– The Clippers come out playing physical with some hard screens and tough post defense. Clearly the Nuggets pushed the Clippers' collective buttons in the first half. They're looking to set the tone early.

– Faried has been struggling with DeAndre Jordan’s physicality all game. Despite ceding almost four inches in height, Faried does take his possessions inside on Jordan without fear. Still, Faried has to improve his post repertoire, or he can look forward to more blocks on his hook shot attempts. 3 of Jordan’s 4 blocks are on Faried.

– With 3 minutes to play and Chandler sitting with 4 fouls, Joffrey Lauvergne enters the game with the score tied 76-76. Hunt immediately instructs him to begin “hack-a-Jordan” and Jordan sinks 1 of 2. Why can’t Hickson be the one fouling Jordan, again?

– Jordan finds himself wide open under the hoop after Barton and Lauvergne lose him in transition.

Not quite sure what Hunt was thinking with the Foye/Barton/Chandler/Hickson/Lauvergne lineup to close the quarter, but it doesn't work and the Clippers seize a 5 point lead heading into the fourth quarter.

Fourth Quarter

– Chandler is absolutely feeling it tonight with 27 points on 10-20 shooting (5-9 from deep) and could easily break his career high of 35 if his hot shooting keeps up. He's keeping the Nuggets in the game almost singlehandedly. At this point, I would hate to see the team squander such an excellent performance from Chandler.

– Erick Green gets completely crossed over and Austin Rivers blows by Faried for a two handed jam down the lane. As much as I want to continue to see Green get playing time, he absolutely must show more intensity on the defensive end – and hit the weight room in the offseason.

– The Nuggets FINALLY get a call in the paint and all it takes is Faried to get completely mugged from behind by Matt Barnes. The typically star-blinded refs in Los Angeles again rear their ugly heads tonight.

– Blake Griffin has another all-star level flop to draw a foul on Faried off a rebound. As much as I can appreciate the incredibly physical tools Griffin has, I'll never respect his flopping. This flop is happening at a critical point in the game, and the momentum shift off a critical rebound turned foul could swing the game.

– This Nuggets team is shorthanded and has nothing to play for, and Chandler is dragging them to a win kicking and screaming with anotherl ong three. With 32 poitns and 5 minutes to play, can he break his NBA record?

– With an 11-1 run since the Griffin flop, the Clippers have seized a four point lead with 2:10 to play. An errant Randy Foye pass essentially seals the game with one of two free throws by Blake Griffin as the lead extends to 5.

Final Thoughts

Tonight, the Nuggets gave a spirited effort but were ultimately exposed without Ty Lawson or Danilo Gallinari and playing a meaningless game on the second night of a back to back to close the season. While it was great to see the youngsters like Erick Green, Gary Harris and Joffrey Lauvergne get some extended burn, Jusuf Nurkic’s curious absence in the second half was disappointing. With 51 losses on the season, the only thing this team has left to play for is avoiding the ignominy of a 52nd.

Box Score