The second-longest playoff streak in the NBA will more than likely come to a close at the end of this season. For one night, a small amount of solace might be given to the Denver Nuggets, the owners of this distinction and playoff entrants the past 10 seasons.
Led by fresh legs and a 14-2 run to close the game, the Nuggets took the life out of the Los Angeles Clippers and their 11-game winning streak, stopping them 110-100 in the Pepsi Center. Denver’s home floor has proven to be Kryptonite for teams with double-digit winning streaks, as this was the sixth time the Nuggets have ended such a run and the second year in a row they’ve achieved this against the Clippers, who lost 92-78 last season against Denver, ending a 17-game winning streak.
Injuries have plagued the Clippers (48-21) during much of the second half of the season, and it showed late in the game. Chris Paul led all scorers with 29 points, and fellow All-Star Blake Griffin added 26 points and 12 rebounds but shot just 7-of-25 from the field.
The Nuggets (30-37) haven’t had the true advantage they did last season when they ripped off 21 wins straight at one point en route to team-record 36 victories at home for the season. A coaching change from veteran George Karl to first-time head man Brian Shaw and a roster upheaval that saw veterans Andre Iguodala, Andre Miller and Corey Brewer depart for other teams have certainly been a factor, as the Nuggets are still trying to define what their roles are. They’ve been wildly inconsistent this season with winning streaks of three, five and seven games but losing streaks of three (twice), five, six and eight games.
Guard Ty Lawson (19 points) and energetic power forward Kenneth Faried (18 points and 16 rebounds) have continued their high level of play for Denver, as they were among six Nuggets in double figures. The surprising output of backup center J.J. Hickson, who led six players in double figures with 21 points, was instrumental for an inspired squad that outrebounded the Clippers, 55-43.