Timofey Mozgov's hard foul on the All-Star came in a dominant third quarter that helped Denver win 112-91 Thursday night and end the Clippers' season-high four-game winning streak that included a victory over the Nuggets last weekend.
Danilo Gallinari scored 21 points, including all five of his 3-pointers, Ty Lawson added 18 points, Arron Afflalo 15 and Mozgov 11 for the Nuggets, who had lost two straight overall and three in a row to the Clippers, their longest active losing streak against any team.
Mozgov sent Griffin to the court, and Griffin struck his head.
"It rattled me a little bit," said Griffin, who missed both free throws. "It was a good foul, a hard foul."
Gallinari said, "We know that once Blake takes off, it's almost impossible to block his shot. So you've got to find him before he takes off. Timo was able to be on the weak side at the right time. It was a tough foul, but sometimes you've got to do it."
Credit former Clipper Andre Miller with the suggestion.
"He had a lot of dunks on us in the first half, and Andre Miller said, 'The next time he tries to dunk the ball, let's try to put him on his behind,'" Al Harrington said. "He almost still made it, but it was a hard foul and he missed. It was a definitely a statement for us, defensively, and it set a precedent for how we were going to play the rest of the game. Teams try to bully us because we play so fast, so it was good to be on the other end of it for once."
Griffin led the Clippers with 18 points, Chris Paul added 15 points and nine assists, and Caron Butler had 11 after missing Wednesday night's win at Utah with a sore lower back. Earlier Thursday, Griffin and Paul were voted to the starting lineup for the All-Star Game, giving the Clippers two players on the team for the first time since 1976.
"I'm humbled," Griffin said. "A lot of guys deserve that and I appreciate the fans voting me in."
The Nuggets pulled away in the third when they outscored the Clippers 32-16 while shooting 65 percent. Gallinari hit consecutive 3-pointers to open the quarter, and Harrington closed it with two straight 3-pointers.
"They got out in transition and we did a poor job of getting back," Griffin said. "We kind of went cold there in the third. We were definitely tired. Four games in five nights is tough, but it's no excuse. We got to protect our home court better than that."
In between, Mozgov had nine points while Los Angeles slumped to 7 of 19 from the floor. Playing their fourth game in five nights, the Clippers closed within 10 points midway through the period before getting outscored 14-5 going into the fourth.
"We knew we had to be more aggressive throughout the game, especially with them playing a back-to-back," Gallinari said. "We did it and we were able to come up with a good stretch and were able to win the game in the third quarter."
All five of the Clippers' starters began the fourth on the bench, although Paul checked in 2:10 into the period with his team trailing by 21. He was the only starter to return and he sat down for good a couple of minutes later, leaving Mo Williams to run a second unit that never posed a threat. Williams finished with 13 and Randy Foye 17.
"It's gone," Paul said of the result. "Hopefully this doesn't happen again."
Chauncey Billups, who had 32 points in the Clippers' 109-105 win at Denver on Sunday, had eight points and three assists against his old team.
The Clippers led most of the first half before Denver outscored them 9-4 to lead 54-51 at the break.
Nuggets reserve G-F Corey Brewer wasn't with the team for personal reasons. Coach George Karl said he thought Brewer could be out the rest of the week. ... Billups played in his 1,000th career NBA game, as did the Nuggets' Miller. ... Rihanna, Billy Crystal and Don Cheadle were among the sellout crowd that included retired Nuggets coach Dan Issel.
- Jason Phillips
- Eric Lewis
- Tony Brown