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Less-than-tough Clippers cuff Nuggets

Less-than-tough Clippers cuff Nuggets LOS ANGELES - There are times when Nuggets coach George Karl will warn the smirking media that every team is an NBA team, which in his head means any team can beat his team if the circumstances are right.

Friday, the circumstances were more than right.

The Nuggets made them so. Their 106-99 loss to the Clippers at the Staples Center was built on a solid foundation of turnovers, questionable decisions and lax defense for much of the game.

And so they became easy pickings for a team believed to be better than its 4-9 mark coming into the game suggested, but which hadn't played like it. There is young talent on the roster in Al Thornton and DeAndre Jordan; old talent in Baron Davis, Chris Kaman and Marcus Camby; and a coach in Mike Dunleavy who has taken a team to the NBA Finals.

For a night, that all came together - for three quarters, anyway. They were the right three quarters for the Clippers. The Nuggets started the game as if blowing out the Clippers would be an easy task.

"As I tried to tell people before the game, outside of the first four games they have not been playing that bad," Karl said.

Carmelo Anthony scored at will, 17 points in the first quarter on 6-of-7 shooting. The Nuggets flourished behind Anthony's ability to hit shots from all angles and sprinted out to a 26-14 lead.

From there, the Clippers took over.

They went on a 17-0 run that gave them a 31-26 lead, capped by a Rasual Butler 3-pointer with 9:24 left in the second quarter. Karl picked up a technical foul, and almost got another. Chauncey Billups had only five points through three quarters. J.R. Smith didn't have a single point through three.

But the Nuggets didn't go quietly, but with a bang.

Down by 19 points in the third quarter and 15 going into the fourth, the Nuggets used a lineup of Ty Lawson, Smith, Anthony, Joey Graham and Nene to chop the Clippers' lead to 92-90.

But the Clippers regained enough control to win.

"This is a very, very disappointing game for us," said Billups. "Somehow we've got to get these guys to know that we are everybody's big game now."

Anthony again was the big scorer. He finished with 37 points on 12-of-20 shooting. Nene (18 points, 12 rebounds), Kenyon Martin (14 points, four rebounds) and Lawson (12 points) finished in double figures.

Smith scored all nine of his points in the fourth quarter. Billups finished with five points on 1-of-5 shooting.

The Clippers, who closed on a 14-9 run, were led by Butler's 27 points (4-of-9 from the 3-point line). Thornton added 18 points.

The synergistic fact of the night: It was almost exactly two years to the day since the Clippers last beat the Nuggets . That happened on Nov. 21, 2007, at Los Angeles.

The Clippers' win Friday snapped streaks of seven straight losses to Denver overall and three straight losses to the Nuggets in L.A.

Chris Dempsey: 303-954-1279 or

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Added: November 23, 2009


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