Nuggets snap 3-game skid with 87-81 win over Clippers
LOS ANGELES (AP) The Nuggets' defense never wavered, sustaining through a franchise-high barrage of 46 3-point attempts by the Los Angeles Clippers.
Kenneth Faried had 21 points and 11 rebounds, and Denver won 87-81 on Wednesday night for its first victory since the All-Star break.
''We made shots, got stops and pretty much that was it,'' said Faried, who didn't play in the fourth when the Clippers went to a smaller lineup. ''We were able to get to the basket and finish around the basket.''
Gary Harris added 17 points and Danilo Gallinari 16 for the Nuggets, who snapped a three-game skid while improving to 7-13 on the road against Western Conference opponents. Nikola Jokic matched Faried with 11 rebounds.
''We have beaten some of the best teams in the NBA when we defend, and this is the first game, post All-Star break, where we defended for four quarters,'' Nuggets coach Michael Malone said. ''Hopefully we can get back to defending at a high level like we were before the break.''
The Clippers were led by J.J. Redick and Jamal Crawford with 20 points apiece, and Chris Paul had 17 points and 10 assists. They had won five of seven, but were outclassed in nearly every category by the struggling Nuggets.
Denver outscored them 44-22 in the paint and 19-9 in fast-break points.
''We got to win games like this,'' said Paul, whose right forearm was wrapped up to his elbow.
The Clippers' 3-point attempts accounted for over half of their 85 shots, and they made just 13.
''They shot a record?'' Nuggets guard Will Barton said. ''Good thing they didn't make a record.''
Crawford scored the Clippers' first eight points of the fourth, hitting back-to-back 3-pointers from the same spot on the right side to cut their deficit to seven. Paul and Redick made consecutive 3s that left Los Angeles trailing 80-78.
Jeff Green's driving hook shot again drew the Clippers within two before Harris' 3-pointer beat the shot clock, extending the Nuggets' lead to 85-80.
The Clippers' rally stalled over the final three minutes, with Redick missing a 3 and losing the ball. Green got called for an offensive foul in the lane, negating his basket that would have got the Clippers within two with 30 seconds left.
Five different Clippers scored, including 3-pointers by Redick and Wesley Johnson, in a 12-3 run that drew them to 62-58 in the third. The Nuggets again closed strongly, getting seven straight points from Gallinari to lead 71-62 going in the fourth.
Faried scored nine points in a 14-0 spurt to end the second quarter, giving the Nuggets a 53-39 lead at the break.
''The end of the second quarter changed the game. Faried got loose with offensive rebounds,'' Clippers coach Doc Rivers said.
The Nuggets closed the first quarter on a 21-5 run to lead 23-19, having outscored Los Angeles 16-0 in the paint.
Nuggets: They outscored the Clippers 30-8 in the paint, 13-2 on second-chance points and 15-7 in fast-break points in the first half. ... Faried had averaged 19 points over his three previous games. ... Denver gave up a season low in points.
Clippers: Rivers said Paul had a tight calf after the game. ... Johnson took seven 3-pointers, tied for third-most on the team, and made just one. ... Crawford got mowed down by JaKarr Sampson in a loose ball scramble late in the third, but got up and kept playing. ... They fell to 26-7 without injured Blake Griffin.
The Nuggets had a goal of starting strongly, having trailed by three, 18 and three points after the first quarter in their first three losses after the All-Star break.
The Clippers hit four 3-pointers to start the game in building a 14-6 lead before the Nuggets closed out the first leading 23-19.
QUOTE OF THE NIGHT
''We've seen some horrendous dancing this year. Cole (Aldrich) was probably the worst dancer I've ever seen in my life, but Alex (Stepheson) the other day gave him a run for his money. So we now know it's not a racial thing.'' - Rivers on ritual used to welcome new players to the team.
Nuggets: At Dallas on Friday. They have lost three straight to the Mavericks.
Clippers: At Sacramento on Friday.