Playing at an unprecedented level, the Los Angeles Clippers keep
taking the franchise further into uncharted territory.
The Denver Nuggets, however, would like to end their historic
run while continuing their own recent surge.
The Clippers hope to celebrate a 14th consecutive win on
Christmas Day when they host the Nuggets, who have won four of
their last five contests.
Los Angeles (21-6) extended its franchise-record run and snapped
a 10-game losing streak in Phoenix with a 103-77 rout Sunday. The
Clippers have won by an average of 15.7 points during their streak,
also setting a club record with six straight road wins.
“We’re just taking care of business right now,” forward Blake
Griffin said. “To be honest, we’re not really concerned with ‘You
haven’t won here since then’ or ‘You haven’t won this many games in
Griffin has been one of the major catalysts, averaging 20.7
points while shooting 59.4 percent from the field in his last 11
games. He finished with 23 points on 8-of-12 shooting against the
Suns, adding 11 rebounds and four steals.
Chris Paul had 17 points and 13 assists for his fifth
double-double in six games. The All-Star point guard is 7 of 11
from 3-point range while grabbing 10 steals in his last two
Paul averaged 24.3 points on 54.0 percent shooting – including 9
of 18 from beyond the arc – as the Clippers took three of four from
the Nuggets last season.
“We know what they have in Chris Paul and how he makes all of
the other players around him better,” Denver forward Danilo
Gallinari told his team’s official website. “It will be a good
challenge for us and we’ll be ready for them.”
Gallinari, the team’s leader with 15.6 points per game, scored
12 in just 22 minutes Saturday night as the Nuggets rolled past
Kosta Koufos, Kenneth Faried, Andre Iguodala and JaVale McGee
combined for 60 points and shot 27 of 37 from the floor. The
Nuggets, who lead the NBA in points in the paint per game (55.6),
have put up the league’s two highest single-game totals in that
category this season in their last two games with 74 and 78.
They’ve averaged 109.3 points overall in their last four despite
shooting just 26.6 percent from 3-point range.
“The pace has been getting better for us,” coach George Karl
said. “There seems to be a little more wear and tear on the other
team as the game goes on. … We want to keep it going.”
It isn’t likely to come easily against the Clippers, who have
allowed the NBA’s second-fewest points in the paint per game
(36.7). Los Angeles has also matched a franchise record by holding
eight straight opponents below 43.0 percent shooting.
The Clippers have buried opponents with their impressive depth,
led by Sixth Man of the Year candidate Jamal Crawford, Matt Barnes
and Eric Bledsoe.
Crawford, who had 22 points Sunday, leads the NBA in points per
game off the bench with 16.3. The Clippers boast the league’s
highest-scoring reserves at 41.9 points per game.
The Nuggets (15-13) are expected to have guard Ty Lawson back
after the team’s second-leading scorer and top assist man left
Saturday’s game with a left Achilles strain.
Denver has lost four of five to the Clippers at Staples Center
and is 0-3 all-time on the road on Christmas Day.