Nuggets 100, Clippers 95
Whether he wants to play somewhere else or not, the Denver
Nuggets just can’t afford to trade Carmelo Anthony – particularly
after the wave of injuries that have hit the team.
Anthony had 30 points and 14 rebounds, Aaron Afflalo added 27
points and nine boards on the eve of his 25th birthday, and the
Nuggets beat the Los Angeles Clippers 100-95 on Thursday night
after blowing an 18-point lead.
Denver played without Kenyon Martin (left knee), Al Harrington
(left foot), Chris Anderson (right knee) and Chauncey Billups, who
was rested by coach George Karl after playing more than 22 1/2
minutes in his preseason debut on Tuesday.
”I don’t know when they’re coming back. We’re hoping to get Al
back for the regular season,” Karl said. ”We have only three of
our five 25-30 minute players, so it’s going to be difficult. I
told my staff that we have 70 minutes (to dole out), and if we
started the season today, I don’t know who would be playing those
Blake Griffin, counting the days before his official NBA debut
after a frustrating one-year wait, led the Clippers with 24 points
and 14 rebounds. Chris Kaman added 23 points for Los Angeles.
”They were just setting a screen-and-roll and throwing it into
Kaman and Griffin for lobs,” Denver guard Ty Lawson said. ”We
were just trying to get bodies on them, hit them and force them to
take jump shots. We couldn’t let them make dunks all night.”
Griffin, the No. 1 pick in the 2009 draft, played his first game
before the home crowd at Staples Center since last Oct. 23 – when
he suffered a non-displaced stress fracture in his left kneecap
during the team’s final exhibition game against New Orleans. He
underwent season-ending surgery three months later after the knee
failed to respond to treatment and rehab, and has averaged 15.8
points and 11.5 boards through his first five exhibition games.
”He’s a monster out there and he’s a mismatch problem out
there,” Clippers point guard Baron Davis said. ”He’s a guy who
plays hard all the time, so he’s going to go out there and give
maximum effort. He’s like that in practice, too. I’m just happy for
him and happy to have him out there on the floor. He’s doing really
good in this preseason, and now we have to continue to build as a
team and make this thing work.”
Davis, playing through knee and calf issues, had seven points in
24 minutes during his second game of the preseason. He had a 16
1/2-minute outing in Tuesday’s 100-99 loss to San Antonio at Mexico
City – a game in which the Clippers blew an 18-point lead.
”I’m just working hard, trying to get better,” Davis said.
”I’m taking it one day at a time and I’m just in a building
process right now. I know my conditioning is not where it should
be, but that’s what the preseason is for.”
Afflalo’s two free throws gave Denver a 98-95 edge with 11.5
seconds on the clock. The Clippers had a chance to tie, but Eric
Gordon missed a 3-point shot with 5 seconds to go and finished with
19 points. Anthony got the rebound and iced it with two free
Denver opened the third quarter with a 13-3 run that increased
its two-point halftime lead to 70-59 with 8:20 left in the period.
The Nuggets built the margin to 79-61 on Afflalo’s two free throws
with 4:25 left in the quarter after Nene picked up his fifth
The Nuggets center was still on the bench when the Clippers
opened the fourth with eight straight points, including Davis’
first basket of the game, to slice Denver’s lead to 84-81 with 8:28
to play. Rasual Butler’s two free throws tied it at 86 with 5:57
left, and Davis’ three-point play pulled the Clippers even again at
91 with 3:32 remaining.
”We really picked up the energy as a team,” Griffin said.
”Baron did a great job at the end of the third quarter, and we
really had it going in the fourth. That’s big for us because a lot
of us are new and we’re trying to get used to each other. When you
have games like this, it just builds your confidence as a team.
It’s a lot of fun playing with this group and it’s going to be a
NOTES: The only Denver points in the fourth quarter other than
those by Anthony and Afflalo came on a short jumper by Shelden
Williams with 8:07 remaining. … It was the first of three games
in a four-day span for both clubs, including the annual Staples
Shootout with the two-time defending champion Lakers and Utah Jazz.
… Forward Renaldo Balkman, the first player off the Nuggets’
bench, picked up four fouls in his first five minutes on the court
and fouled out with 2:05 remaining. Teammate Melvin Ely also fouled
out early in the fourth … Butler, who set a Clippers franchise
record for 3-pointers made in a season during the 2009-10 campaign,
was 1 for 8 from behind the arc and is 9 for 28 from long range
during the preseason. … Clippers fans got their first look at
Staples Center’s new eight-sided, high-definition scoreboard, which
includes four LED video screens underneath so that spectators
sitting in the first 20 rows can get a decent view of the