Whicker: Breaking down Clippers’ stunning loss to Denver Nuggets


first_imgDenver 87, Clippers 81, the morning after:• Emanuel Mudiay, Denver’s rookie point guard, hit two key free throws with 25.5 seconds left for the final margin. It’s still too early to tell if the Lakers did the right thing when they drafted D’Angelo Russell instead of Mudiay, who was 1 for 12 from the field Wednesday and is shooting 34.3 from the field and 27.2 from the 3-point line. Mudiay has a staggering total of 150 turnovers in 43 games, but he had none Wednesday, and his assist-turnover ratio is better than Russell’s. Mudiay also plays nearly three more minutes per game than does Russell, who is shooting 41.7 percent from the floor.• Denver coach Michael Malone described Mudiay’s play as “night and day” from the beginning of the season, but says Mudiay must improve his shooting. “Everybody’s going underneath the screens on him,” Malone said. Mudiay looked more promising than Russell in the summer leagues, but the best assessment is that both Mudiay and Russell and most of the rest of the rookie class belongs in college.• Denver ranks 30th, or last, in the NBA when it comes to blocking shots. So the Clippers, incredibly, launched a franchise-record 46 3-pointers in this loss, hitting 13. Doc Rivers seemed fine with the strategy, since the “right people” were taking the 3s. But J.J. Redick pointed out that the Nuggets were leaving the Clippers open so they could send extra defenders at DeAndre Jordan when he worked the pick-and-rolls with Chris Paul. It worked, with Jordan going 2 for 5. Paul, Redick and J.J. Crawford shot 12 for 27 from the three and the Clippers still got held to 81 points. • It was the Nuggets’ first road win over a likely playoff team since Dec. 3 at Toronto.• Danilo Gallinari is having a quietly productive year for Denver, averaging 19.8 points. The Italian had 16 with eight rebounds and took a crucial charge from Jeff Green in the final half-minute.• “I said before the game we needed to bring our own energy,” said Paul, who was wary of the laid-back atmosphere following the Clippers’ 40-point win over Phoenix on Monday.• Then again, Redick reminded everyone: “The really great teams find a way to win games like this.”• It was generally agreed that the Clippers made it difficult on themselves in the final 2:41 of the second quarter, when Denver went on a 14-0 lead and took a 14-point lead. Kenneth Faried had two offensive rebound buckets in that span and a hook shot. “He was phenomenal tonight, a huge reason why we had the lead at halftime,” Malone said. • Another byproduct of the Clippers’ 3-point habit was their inability to reach the foul line. They had only 14 tries and made eight, and Paul had only two.• Paul Pierce is shooting 11 for 32 in his past five games. Rivers blamed himself for giving Pierce “inconsistent minutes” earlier in the season.• Paul caught an elbow to the forearm and had it wrapped after the game, and has a lingering calf problem, but said everything was fine. • The Nuggets outrebounded the Clippers by 16 in the first half and by 10 for the game, and won the points-in-the-paint battle by a margin of 44-22.• “We played with the right intentions,” Rivers said. “We just missed wide-open shot after wide-open shot. We missed shots and got frustrated, but I really didn’t think it was one of those games where we just didn’t show up to play.”center_img Newsroom GuidelinesNews TipsContact UsReport an Errorlast_img

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