Game Notes: Clippers at Nuggets
Carmelo Anthony leads Nuggets to win.
by Sulaiman Folarin
DENVER, CO – Coming off a missed buzzer beater loss to the Dallas Mavericks and without their starting center Nene for the second-straight game, the Denver Nuggets shook that off and with Carmelo Anthony’s game-high 30 points went on to win 111-104 over the Los Angeles Clippers.
The game started with both teams trading baskets. Anthony got a steal went down the floor for a finger roll layup, but the Nuggets gave up a basket on the other end immediately through Eric Gordon’s jumper.
Blake Griffin, the Clippers’ star of the night with a team-high 26 points, was getting to the basket with relative ease. The Nuggets defense was non-existent for the first quarter as the Clippers went on 8-2 run to end the quarter 28-24.
“I think the energy was there,” said head coach Vinny Del Negro. “We made some adjustments and they did.”
Nuggets started the second quarter on a more positive note with a Shelden Williams mid-range baseline jumper and Al Harrington’s spin at the top of the key for a driving monster dunk on Chris Kaman to tie the game at 28 got the fans cheering. But the Clippers just came back and put up a 7-0 run.
“I thought we did a good job in the first half,” said Clippers center Kaman. “We held our own and we did a good job with Carmelo.”
Nuggets guard JR Smith got the fans on their feet again when he drove the baseline and got a monster dunk and a foul on Rasual Butler. Just as it looked like Denver was cutting into that lead, they were giving up points on the other end.
As Griffin was pretty effective in the first quarter, Butler and Kaman did the job for Los Angeles in the second quarter.
With under a minute left in the first half, the Nuggets were still down by 4 points courtesy of a couple of Los Angeles turnovers and missed shots. But Anthony and Harrington’s buckets and Nuggets defense helped keep the game close as Denver went into the half down 54-53.
“We turned the ball over a couple of times to give them easy baskets on the run which they’re good at,” Kaman said. “And we just could not come back.”
Nuggets went on an 11-4 run to start the third quarter with Chauncey Billups and Anthony leading the charge as they took the lead 64-58 with 8:24 left. Clippers were forced to call a timeout.
“We just came in at half time and said we got to put together six or seven really good minutes in order to get the game under control,” said Billups.
After the time out, the Nuggets took off from where they left off, but Griffin was showed off moves with a hook shot and some mid-range jumpers as he scored 6-straight points for the Clippers to keep the game close at 68-64 in favor of Denver with a little over five minutes left in the quarter.
“We watched film at half time and George [Karl] said we had to change when we came out,” Anthony said.
“We tried to get the ball out of Melo’s hands, but he did a good job of finding people on the back side and the rest of his teammates did a good job of knocking down shots,” Griffin said.
As the Nuggets went on another run to end the quarter, the Clippers, on the other end of the floor, missed three-straight free-throws for an 82-71 lead.
“We were able to get some stops move the ball around and we are a dangerous team when we do that,” Harrington said.
Harrington’s three-point shot to start the fourth was just an indication that this was his quarter for the Nuggets. He scored nine of his 18 points in the fourth alone.
“Carmelo is a handful. But their penetration and kick out to [Al] Harrington hurt us on some things,” said Del Negro.
“I was just thinking stay aggressive, if I get opportunities try to make the best of them. I was just trying to focus on defense, cos I knew a couple of stops would win the game,” Harrington said.
Clippers forward Kaman did not help the eventual outcome. His shooting percent was poor as he finished 5-18 with 10 points.
“He’ll be fine, he just missed some easy shots he [Kaman] usually makes and we still had 60 points in the paint,” Del Negro said.
“This is probably the worse I played in a long time,” Kaman mentioned.” I’m frustrated about it and I know I can help my teammates more than what I’m doing. I don’t want to be someone who continues to shoot the ball bad; it’s not there right now.”