The presence of rookie forward Carmelo Anthony has generated a large amount of interest in the Nuggets, including his hyped matchup with fellow rookie LeBron James and the Cleveland Cavaliers on Wednesday.
However, 5-foot-5 reserve Earl Boykins stole the spotlight from the rookies, leading the Nuggest to a 93-89 win. Boykins shot 7-for-12 from the floor, scored 18 points in the second half as Denver moved out to a 15-point lead and held off a late Cleveland charge.
Anthony, who finished with 14 points on 6-for-17 shooting, was grateful for his teammate’s effort.
“Earl stole the show and took the pressure off my back,” Anthony said. “I won, so I’m happy about my performance. It’s all about winning in this league.”
So far, the Nuggets are winning more than they are losing, but are only averaging 85.4 points, sixth-worst in the NBA.
The Clippers will be looking to get new coach Mike Dunleavy his first win with the team.
“When they hired him, it just showed me that the Clippers are making a commitment to winning,” said swingman Corey Maggette. “It showed a lot of character on the part of the franchise.”
The veteran Dunleavy has coached six playoff teams and brought a career .505 winning percentage to the Clippers. He is eighth on the career-wins list of active league coaches, and needs two wins for 400.
Los Angeles hasn’t played since falling to Seattle, 124-105 on Saturday, getting swept by the SuperSonics in the two-game series in Japan.
Maggette led the Clippers with 26 points, and Quentin Richardson added 19 points and seven rebounds.
STANDINGS (through Nov. 5): Clippers - 7th place, 3 GB, Pacific Division. Nuggets - 1st place, 1/2 GB, Midwest Division.
TEAM LEADERS: Clippers - Maggette, 23.5 ppg; Brand, 15 rpg and 5 apg. Nuggets - Anthony, 13.8 ppg; Camby, 11 rpg; Miller, 3 apg.
SEASON SERIES: Clippers, 3-1.
LAST MEETING: April 12; Clippers, 101-79. At Denver, Marko Jaric scored 17 points on 7-of-10 shooting, and Maggette added 14 points and 10 rebounds for the Clippers, who beat the Nuggets for the third time in four games.
ROAD/HOME RECORDS: Clippers - 0-1 on the road; Nuggets - 2-0 at home.