It’s been a streaky season so far for the Denver Nuggets, whose current stretch is definitely not a good one.
The Nuggets seek only their second win in more than two weeks Friday night at home against the Los Angeles Clippers.
Denver (10-15) opened the season with seven losses in its first nine games before a 7-1 stretch put the Nuggets one game over .500 after a win at Utah on Dec. 1.
However, they’ve followed that surge with seven losses over their previous eight after a 115-111 overtime setback against Houston on Wednesday. While Denver limited the Rockets to 41.2 percent shooting, they attempted 48 free throws, hitting 37 of them.
"We defended, we scrapped," coach Brian Shaw said. "We couldn’t keep them off the free throw line. I’m proud of the guys, the way they played. These kind of losses I can stomach a little bit better."
The Nuggets are one of the worst defensive teams in the NBA, allowing 105.0 points per game, and have relied primarily on an offense that is averaging 103.0. They are 9-2 when limiting opponents to 101 or fewer, although several of those victories have come against struggling teams like Detroit, Miami, the Los Angeles Lakers and the Jazz.
"Our team, we have to generate offense on team plays with good player movement, good ball movement, penetration, getting into the lane and causing their defense to react to what we’re doing," Shaw said. "I’m fine with that because that’s what we have."
Los Angeles (18-7) enters this contest coming off back-to-back wins, rebounding from its first consecutive defeats of the season Dec. 12-13. Blake Griffin scored 31 points and DeAndre Jordan has 23 rebounds in Wednesday’s 102-100 victory over Indiana.
Jordan’s rebounding performance marked a season high for the seventh-year center and was one shy of a career best set March 31 against Minnesota.
"My job for our team is to be a defender, rebounder, shot blocker, and to just be the back line for us," he said. "That means controlling the paint, grabbing all the loose balls and limiting teams to one shot."
The Clippers sit among NBA leaders with assists on 63.1 percent of their field goals, and that sort of ball movement begins with Chris Paul, who is averaging 9.7 assists.
Paul, however, has failed to reach double-digit assists in four games. Another single-digit assist performance would mark the fourth time since joining the Clippers in 2011 that he has recorded fewer than 10 in five or more consecutive games.
Whether Paul or other key members of the rotation will log their regular playing time is another issue. Including Friday’s matchup, the Clippers play eight games over 13 days.
"There’s just a lot of games and there’s a lot of travel," coach Doc Rivers said. "It’s just hard. So we’re just going to watch our guys. I’m going to be very cautious."
The Clippers and Nuggets split last season’s four-game series, with Los Angeles taking the most recent meeting 117-105 at Staples Center on April 15.