Notebook: Clippers 117, Nuggets 105
April 16, 2014INDIANA SPORTS PAGE
NBA PRESS RELEASE
THE FACT: Blake Griffin picked up his 16th technical of the year and will be suspended for the regular season finale if the foul is not rescinded. In somewhat of a surprise move, even if the call is overturned, coach Doc Riverssaid that Griffin will not travel with the team on Wednesday.
THE LEAD: With a 117-105 victory over the Nuggets (36-45) on Tuesday night at Staples Center, not only did the Clippers (57-24) break a franchise record for wins in a season, they also kept hope alive to better their postseason positioning. The previous top mark for victories in a year was 56, first set last season and duplicated with Saturday's 117-101 favorable result against Sacramento.
QUOTABLE: "I want Blake to stay home and get some rest, he's so banged up."
THE STAT: The Clippers can still secure a No. 2 seed for the upcoming Western Conference playoffs. First, Oklahoma City must lose to Detroit at home Wednesday night. Later in the evening, Los Angeles needs to defeat Portland on the road. If the scenario materializes, both teams finish with a 58-24 record in the regular season. The Clippers hold the tiebreaker with a better conference mark and the No. 3 seed would go to the Thunder, where a first-round series awaits against Golden State.
TURNING POINT: It's difficult to imagine things being decided in the opening minutes. Nevertheless, the Clippers jumped out to a 13-0 lead and the Nuggets did not score their first basket of the game until Aaron Books converted a layup with 8:52 left in the first quarter. Denver never recovered, trailed by double digits for a majority of the time, and Clippers essentially cruised to victory.
HOT: Chris Paul played with a sense of urgency once the ball was set in motion. He was 4-for-5 from the field in the first quarter, 3-for-4 from beyond the three-point arc, 2-for-2 at the free-throw line, and finished with 13 points in the first 12 minutes. Safe to say that Paul had his way. When all was said and done, he had another double-double, this time with 21 points and 10 assists.
NOT: Failing to shoot well from three-point land, start to finish, certainly did not help the Nuggets in their attempt to keep things somewhat close. They were 2-for-8 from downtown in the first quarter, 2-for-16 at halftime, 7-for-24 at the end of three and 8-for-29 overall (27.6 percent).
GOOD MOVE: Griffin was aggressive during the early stages of the game. And in this particular case, Jan Vesely luckily moved out of the way in the nick of the time. Otherwise, he would have ended up on a poster as Griffin took the ball to the basket and threw down an authoritative one-handed dunk to give the Clippers a 32-16 advantage with 3:47 remaining in the first quarter.
BAD MOVE: In retrospect, Griffin might regret one sequence from this game: His 16th technical of the season which came at the 3:23 mark of the second quarter. Timofey Mozgov attempted to go by Griffin, who swatted the ball but also made contact with the opponent's face. Griffin finished with 24 points, five rebounds, four assists and a pair of steals in 29-plus minutes of action.
QUOTABLE II: "If I make a play on the ball and I hit the ball first, and he gives me a tech for that, I'm not sure that's going to stand up, but we'll see."
NOTABLE: Prior to the opening tip, Rivers revealed that Danny Granger will likely be back at practice Thursday for the Clippers. Calf and hamstring issues have forced him to miss eight straight games. ... J.J. Redick started against the Nuggets and finished with 18 points, including four 3-pointers, in 17 minutes. However, he will not travel with the team on Wednesday and rest instead. ... Five different players scored in double figures for the Nuggets, led by Kenneth Faried's 21. Brooks had 19 points and Mozgov added 18. ... DeAndre Jordan's well-rounded effort included 13 points, 16 rebounds, three assists, two steals and two blocks.
UP NEXT: For the Clippers, Wednesday @ Portland. For the Nuggets, Wednesday vs. Golden State.