Clippers-Nuggets Preview

Associated Press  |  Last updated December 31, 2012
Having wrapped up December with just the third 16-0 month in NBA history, the Los Angeles Clippers face tough challenges starting the new year. They'll play four games this week, with two opponents having winning records and the other at .500. The Clippers take their franchise-record 17-game winning streak into Denver on Tuesday night, where the Nuggets are 9-1 at home. "It'll be a big test for us," forward Blake Griffin said. Denver (17-15) is the first game of a back-to-back, with a visit to Golden State on Wednesday. The Warriors handed the Clippers their first loss of the season Nov. 3. The Clippers return home Friday to host the Lakers, a team they've already beaten once and who are back to .500. Then comes the second game of another back-to-back against the Warriors. "We're going to lose at some point, but this is a magical run," said Caron Butler, who had 29 points in a 107-96 victory over the Utah Jazz on Sunday that maintained the league's best record at 25-6. The Clippers haven't lost since Nov. 26. "I want to do this every year," coach Vinny Del Negro said. "This has got to be a staple of how we go about doing our business. We're thinking bigger than the streak." The Clippers went 16-0 in December to join the 1995-96 San Antonio Spurs, which included Del Negro, and 1971-72 Lakers as the only teams to go undefeated in a month. Their franchise-record winning streak is the longest since Boston won 19 in a row four years ago. "I am amazed because I haven't done it since I've been in the league," said Chris Paul, a seven-year veteran who had 19 points and nine assists against Utah. The Clippers kept their streak alive despite Griffin scoring just seven points due to foul trouble. Their bench came through again, with Jamal Crawford scoring 11 of his 19 points in the fourth quarter. Butler sat in the fourth quarter after playing "out of his mind" as Griffin put it in the opening quarter, when the veteran scored 17 points and hit five of his six 3-pointers. "It's a tribute to everybody in here," Griffin said. "Everybody has been a huge part one night or the other. It's a selfless attitude the team has taken on. This is the most fun I've ever had playing basketball." The Clippers have been winning without injured veterans Chauncey Billups and Grant Hill. "We really haven't had an opportunity to see what it looks like," Paul said of the entire team. Still, they've won 11 of their 17 games by 12 points or more, and their defense has allowed 100 points just three times during the streak. They've been winning so handily that Paul and Griffin rarely have to play in the fourth quarter. Both are averaging career low minutes in the final period this season. "We expect to win every time we step out on the court," Butler said. "We have a good mixture of young guys and veterans, and we do a good job of policing ourselves. Coach lets us control the environment. We do a great job being unselfish on and off the court." A 112-100 home win over the Nuggets on Christmas is part of the streak. Crawford scored 22 points to lead six Clippers in double figures, and Los Angeles held Nuggets leading scorer Danilo Gallinari to seven points on 1-of-10 shooting. Denver won two straight following that loss before suffering an 81-72 defeat at Memphis on Saturday. The Nuggets scored their fewest points of the season while allowing their fewest. Gallinari, who had a career-high 39 points in a 106-85 win at Dallas on Friday night, was limited to seven on 2-of-8 shooting as the Nuggets played for the fourth time in five days. "We just ran out of gas, and ran out of bodies," coach George Karl said. "We didn't have anybody really playing a great game. We worked them as hard as we could. The fight was good, but then with the fourth quarter and turnovers, it just broke our hearts." Los Angeles has won two in a row at Denver following a nine-game skid there, and the Clippers have taken the past three and six of seven overall meetings.
MORE FROM YARDBARKER:
Kevin Durant has...RUSSELL MANIA!
GET THE YARDBARKER APP:
Ios_download En_app_rgb_wo_45
MORE FROM YARDBARKER

U.S. Soccer hands Solo six month suspension for Olympic comments

Report: Josh Gordon will be restricted free agent after 2016

Chargers release statement on Joey Bosa situation

Yoenis Cespedes says he will not opt out of Mets contract

Zach Johnson unloads on Olympic golf

LIKE WHAT YOU SEE?
GET THE DAILY NEWSLETTER:

Drew Brees says players do not trust league office, Goodell

Lawsuit over Hall of Fame Game refiled after McAfee comments

Report: Griffin plans to re-sign with Clippers, won't be traded

Report: Wentz unlikely to see any playing time this season

Minnesota Wild names Prince’s ‘Let’s Go Crazy’ official goal song

Gabby Douglas joining judges for Miss America pageant

One Gotta Go: NFL legends bring the hate for our favorite football movies

Hard not to be cynical about LeBron's 'Cleveland Hustles'

Familiar faces that won't be seen in the NFL this year

24 quintessential moments of Kobe Bryant's career

Revisiting the 10 biggest mistakes of the NFL offseason

One Gotta Go: NFL legends (and Jose Canseco!) have no love for Captain America

Four WNBA teams to pay attention to post-Olympic break

Madden 17 shows how vital a fresh coat of paint can be

Why people just can't get behind the Washington Nationals

Washington's Josh Norman speaks candidly about multiple NFL talking points

Derrick Rose: Knicks have chance to win every game

Ranking the MLB divisional races

NBA News
Delivered to your inbox
You'll also receive Yardbarker's daily Top 10, featuring the best sports stories from around the web. Customize your newsletter to get articles on your favorite sports and teams. And the best part? It's free!

By clicking "Sign Me Up", you have read and agreed to the Fox Sports Digital Privacy Policy and Terms of Use. You can opt out at any time. For more information, please see our Privacy Policy.
the YARDBARKER app
Get it now!
Ios_download En_app_rgb_wo_45

One Gotta Go: NFL legends bring the hate for our favorite football movies

Hard not to be cynical about LeBron James' 'Cleveland Hustles'

Ranking the uniforms of the NFL from worst to best

Familiar faces that won't be seen in the NFL this year

24 quintessential moments of Kobe Bryant's career

One Gotta Go: NFL legends (and Jose Canseco!) have no love for Captain America

Four WNBA teams to pay attention to post-Olympic break

Madden 17 shows how vital a fresh coat of paint can be

Why people just can't get behind the Washington Nationals

QUIZ: Name every player to win a championship with Kobe Bryant

Today's Best Stuff
For Publishers
Company Info
Help
Follow Yardbarker