Los Angeles Clippers vs. Denver Nuggets: Postgame Grades and Analysis for L.A.
When you're going up against JaVale McGee and he knocks down a buzzer-beating three-pointer, there's a good chance things just aren't going your way.
It's exactly what happened to the Los Angeles Clippers at the end of the third quarter in Denver Tuesday night, resulting in a 92-78 loss to the Nuggets, and an end to their epic 17-game winning streak.
Facing a team that had lost only one home game all season, the Clippers didn't play their best. They were pounded on the glass, gave up offensive rebound after offensive rebound, missed open three-pointer after open three-pointer (5-of-29), and their interior defense was invisible from the opening tip.
On top of all that, Los Angeles got very little from their bench and Blake Griffin couldn't stay out of foul trouble. What the Clippers did on the court in Denver was a perfect recipe for losing. And lose they did.
Point Guard: Chris Paul
Normally, Paul's offense is amazing while his defense hovers below the radar. With Ty Lawson out with an injury, Paul was able to roam off his man a bit more than usual, pestering opposing players with his quick hands.
Offensively, he didn't call his own number until the third quarter, making two spot-up jumpers on pick-and-rolls. But just as quickly, he went back to deferring to teammates. He finished with 10 points on nine shots and 34 minutes of floor time. The Clippers needed him to be aggressive, and he wasn't.
Shooting Guard: Willie Green
Green struggled to contain the larger Andre Iguodala in his 17 minutes of play (four coming in fourth-quarter garbage time), and offensively he wasn't hitting his outside shots. Add that all up and what you have is a weak link having a useless outing.
Green scored two points and missed all five of his three-pointers.
Small Forward: Caron Butler
Butler took shots that were open and missed most of them, including four of his first five three-point attempts. Similar to Green, Butler's night was quiet and ineffective.
He finished the game 3-of-8 with seven points, and had a tough time keeping Denver's Danilo Gallinari out of the paint.
Power Forward: Blake Griffin
Griffin showed off a beautiful turn-around jumper on his first basket of the game, and the Clippers continued to feed him on their subsequent possessions. He drew double teams, found open shooters like Caron Butler and Chris Paul, and was extremely effective with the ball in his hands.
Unfortunately, Griffin found himself in foul trouble for much of the first half, and his presence in the paint on defense was non-existent. He ended up picking up his fourth foul just five minutes into the second half, forcing Lamar Odom into extended minutes the Clippers don't want him playing.
Griffin finished with 12 points and nine rebounds on 4-of-11 shooting from the floor.
Center: DeAndre Jordan
Jordan was probably the Clippers' best player Tuesday night, which is a suitable explanation for why they lost. He began the game with effective activity on the offensive glass, leading to free throws and more Clipper possessions than Denver would've liked for them to have. He attempted an incredible six free throws in the first quarter, basically living at the charity stripe.
While this game was still competitive, Jordan did his thing, catching lobs and smashing them through the rim on a regular basis. He finished the game with 11 points and 11 rebounds.
Sixth Man: Jamal Crawford
Crawford came back to earth for a night. He missed five of his first six shots, giving flashbacks to his tenure in Portland last season. He ended the night with nine points on 2-of-11 shooting, failing to make several wide open corner threes that he was regularly knocking down with a defender's hand in his face during the Clips' streak.
Los Angeles' second unit was badly outplayed to start the second quarter, and they let it carry over for the rest of the game. They let the Nuggets' lead reach double digits, and failed to attack on either end with the effectiveness they've become known for this season.
A particular weak spot was their interior defense, with Lamar Odom and Ronny Turiaf both failing to defend their own rim.
Offensively, Eric Bledsoe shined in limited spurts, making his first four shots and finishing with 12 points in 17 minutes.