The LA Clippers are now on a three-game losing streak after dropping yet another game to a team under .500, falling to the Denver Nuggets 106-102 at STAPLES Center. This was a game the Clippers lost twice, as they overcame a 17-point halftime deficit only to blow a 7-point lead in the 4th quarter.
Top Performer: The Nuggets had 3 players drop at least 23 points, including C Nikola Jokic and backup SF Will Barton. But I have to go with starting SF Danilo Gallinari, who had 23 points and 11 rebounds while making 11-of-12 from the FT line. Gallinari didn’t take a shot in the 4th quarter, but he made the final 4 FTs of the game for Denver to put the game away at its final margin.
X-Factor: The Clippers really miss PF Blake Griffin (knee) and PG Chris Paul (hamstring) for many things, but their impact on the FT line really shows up in games like these. Denver made 3 fewer FGs than the Clippers did tonight, but they made 8 more FTs, connecting on 23-pf-28 FTs for the game (82.1 percent).
Major Moment: Talk about a game of runs! I have four for ya:
– 1st quarter until 7:20 left in 1st half: Clippers up 40-39 despite getting outrebounded 20-10. LA was shooting 53.9 percent from the field to the Nuggets’ 42.4 percent at this point.
– Last 7:20 of the 1st half: Nuggets outscore Clippers 24-6 to close the 2nd quarter. Jokic keyed the run, making 4-of-4 from the field, while the Clippers shot 3-of-15 (20 percent) with 4 turnovers.
– Start of 3rd quarter until 7:48 left in 4th quarter: Clippers turn around and outscore Nuggets 45-21, shooting 62.1 percent from the field while holding the Nuggets to 26.1 percent. Starting guards Austin Rivers and Jamal Crawford combined to score 17 points on 8-of-13 FGs during this stretch.
– Last 7:48 of the game: The Nuggets closed the game on a 22-11 run, with Jokic again making 4-of-4 from the field while the Clippers made only 4 of their last 14 FGs (28.6 percent). The Nuggets also had 5 assists and no turnovers down the stretch, while the Clippers had 2 assists and 3 turnovers.
Key Lineup: The Denver lineup with backups Barton and PG Jameer Nelson in for PF Wilson Chandler and PG Emmanuel Mudiay killed the Clippers, outscoring them 18-8 while compiling a net rating of 59.4 in 7 minutes. The worst Clippers lineup featured Raymond Felton in with the starters in place of starting PF Wesley Johnson (Paul Pierce rested). The Felton/starters lineup was outscored 17-10 in 7 minutes, compiling a net rating of -37.5 while shooting 35.7 percent from the field.
The Definition: Without Griffin, Paul, and SG J.J. Redick, the Clippers showed flashes of competitiveness. However, they also showed severe inconsistency and once again failed to come through when the game was in the balance in the 4th quarter. LA started 14-2 before splitting the next 16 games; they’re off to a bad start if they are going to show they are more like the team from the first 20 percent of the season instead of the team from the second 20 percent.
Clippers started 14-2, then slid to 8-8 … starting with tonight's game vs Nuggets, what will next 16 look like for Clippers?
— ClipperBlog (@clipperblog) December 26, 2016