The Los Angeles Clippers are proud of their recent defensive success, but their standing as one of the best offensive teams in the NBA could be key against the defensively challenged Denver Nuggets.
The Clippers could be in for another terrific performance as they try to beat the sputtering Nuggets for the eighth time in nine tries at home Monday night.
Los Angeles (30-14) is yielding an average of 97.8 points during a 10-3 stretch after giving up 104.5 while losing six of the previous 10. Staunch defensive play was vital Sunday, when the Clippers used a 15-0 fourth-quarter run to pull away in a 120-100 win at Phoenix to extend their winning streak to four games.
"We’re really a team," coach Doc Rivers said. "We’ve done it (win) so many ways. That’s who we are."
Scoring, however, is a big part of it. The Clippers’ average of 107.4 points ranks third in the NBA, while they’re putting up 115.5 on 50.9 percent shooting – 40.2 from long range – over the last four games.
"Everyone knows our offense is good," guard Chris Paul said. "It’s really good. When we get stops, we’re a tough team to beat."
Still, it’s the Clippers’ offense that will likely determine if they can keep this winning streak going since Denver (18-26) is giving up an average of 109.7 points during a six-game slide.
The Nuggets’ defense – or lack thereof – was at the forefront again in Sunday’s 117-115 overtime loss to Washington. Denver allowed the Wizards to shoot 53.3 percent from the floor, and were dominated 56-36 in the paint.
The Clippers have capitalized on the Nuggets’ suspect defense at home, winning seven of eight matchups and four straight while scoring 111.0 points per game. Los Angeles won 117-105 in the most recent meeting at Staples Center on April 15, but suffered a 109-106 loss in Denver on Dec. 19 in the only matchup this season.
Blake Griffin, who had 32 points and 12 rebounds against the Nuggets last month, is averaging 28.4 points with 11.2 board in his last five games in the series.
DeAndre Jordan, the NBA leader with 13.4 boards per game, has put together his own impressive scoring stretch. The center is averaging 15.8 points – 5.5 better than his season average – while hitting 88.4 percent from the field over the past six games.
Paul, third in the league with 9.8 assists, has totaled 29 in two games. He dished out a dozen while scoring 23 points on 7 for 11 from the floor Sunday.
The Nuggets’ slide has come after winning five games in a row to match their longest winning streak of the season.
Ty Lawson would like to end the skid in order to forget other trouble. The guard scored 31 points with 12 assists Sunday after missing one game following his arrest for suspicion of driving while impaired Friday.
"Just to have fun, get around my brothers and take my mind off things," said Lawson, who is second in the NBA with 10.0 assists per game.
He had 14 assists with 10 points against the Clippers last month.
Arron Afflalo seeks some improvement from the field after going 4 for 17 – 1 for 7 from beyond the arc – Sunday. He missed 10 of 14 shots while finishing with 12 points against Los Angeles in December.