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Clippers defeat Denver Nuggets, clinch homecourt advantage for first round

first_img“And that’s basically what happened.”Denver (30-51) got 32 points from Wilson Chandler, 19 points and 17 rebounds from Kenneth Faried and 16 points from Randy Foye.The Nuggets’ leading scorer — point guard Ty Lawson — was given the night off and did not play. Neither did forward Danilo Gallinari, who scored 47 points against Dallas on Friday.The Nuggets outrebounded the Clippers 58-47, 25-13 on the offensive boards.“I don’t think we had great effort or great focus tonight,” Rivers said. “But they played hard. They dominated the glass in the first half. It felt like every time they missed, they got the rebound. They had 19 more shots (58-39) than us in the first half and we were only down by three (57-54).”The Clippers also had nine of their 13 turnovers in the first half.“We were being very lackadaisical and we talked about it,” Paul said. “We were being sloppy, weren’t taking care of the ball and second half, we cleaned it up.”The teams were tied 31-31 after one quarter, but the Nuggets led by as many as eight points in the second quarter before taking a 57-54 lead into the locker room at halftime. The Clippers led 83-78 heading into the fourth quarter. Newsroom GuidelinesNews TipsContact UsReport an Error The Los Angeles Clippers on Monday night played host to the Denver Nuggets in their second-to-last regular-season game. But the bigger focus was on who the Clippers might play in the first round of the playoffs, which begin this weekend.The possibilities were any one of five teams — San Antonio, Portland, Memphis, Houston and Dallas.Guard J.J. Redick was feeling good about taking on any of them based on how well the Clippers have done within the Western Conference this season.“It’s interesting when you look at that,” Redick said prior to his team struggling mightily to defeat the lowly Nuggets 110-103 before 19,060 at Staples Center; the Clippers trailed 96-90 with 5:43 to play, but they clinched homecourt advantage for the first round with the victory. “I think we had the second-best record in the West against the West,” Redick said. “We got our butts kicked every time we played anybody good from the East, it seems like.center_img “But our record against the West and our record against a lot of the top teams whom we’ve beat at least once if not several times — we have some money in the bank, so to speak. We have something to go back on to say, ‘We’ve been successful against this team and we can do it again.’”The Clippers (55-26), who record-wise are now tied for second in the West with San Antonio and Houston with one game to play Tuesday at Phoenix, went 2-2 against San Antonio this season, 2-2 against Memphis, 3-1 against Portland, 2-2 against Houston and 2-1 against Dallas. The Clippers were 35-15 in the West before Monday, second only to Golden State’s 40-10.Blake Griffin led the Clippers on Monday with 22 points, Redick scored 20, DeAndre Jordan had 20 points, 21 rebounds and four blocks, and Chris Paul scored 17 points, nine of them down the stretch to help seal Denver’s fate.But it should not have been that difficult to dispatch a team that is going nowhere.“We knew we weren’t playing well and we were fighting ourselves,” Clippers coach Doc Rivers said. “When that happens, you’re trying to get yourself going, you just couldn’t. The only thing I warned them (about) before the game was like, ‘This (Denver) team is (plying) free, but you could take it away from them by playing harder. But if they get confidence, then it’s going to be a dangerous game because they’re still going to be free and we’re going to be in a tight game thinking we’ve got to win this game.’last_img read more