As is the norm this season, Griffin is most effective when finishing around the rim. The Nuggets were all too eager to give Griffin uncontested looks, though, and he took the bait as usual. On the other end, he struggled defending Nene Hilario on the block but made up for it by playing spurts of impressive perimeter defense on Al Harrington and Danilo Gallinari.
Paul reverted to his pre-injury trend of facilitating in the first half, and taking over in the second. Instead of hesitating and planting himself beyond the 3-point arc, he attacked, made jumper after jumper and created wide-open looks for Chauncey Billups, Caron Butler and Mo Williams. When the game is on the line, there is no better player. It took three games, but it's safe to say Paul is back.
In his first return to Denver since the Carmelo Anthony trade, Billups gave the Nuggets' crowd plenty of reasons to jeer their hometown product. Using a barrage of 3-pointers and contested jumpers, Mr. Big Shot kept the Clippers within striking distance in his finest performance of the season. If only he'd pass up those 3-pointers with 20 seconds left on the shot clock.
In an unexpected performance, Griffin had his career-high in blocks and teamed up with DeAndre Jordan to deny almost everything the Nuggets threw up. There are two sides to every statistic, though, and the Clippers' rejections appear to reflect the poor perimeter and help defense they displayed by allowing so many shot attempts around the basket.
Despite being without arguably their best player and leader, Ty Lawson, the Nuggets led for most of the night and nearly stole the game back late. Even with five players scoring in double figures, Denver couldn't generate enough offense in the fourth and had no answer for either member of the Clippers' starting backcourt. Nonetheless, they appear to be a top-four team in the Western Conference.