The Denver Nuggets have been getting off to good starts during their six-game winning streak. They have a good chance of extending the run Wednesday night when they visit the injury-plagued Los Angeles Clippers.
Denver (8-3) capped a perfect four-game homestand with a fourth consecutive blowout, 112-91 over Chicago on Tuesday. The Nuggets won the four games by an average of 23.0 points, with an average halftime lead of 16.5 points.
Another big opening half ended with Denver holding a 72-53 advantage over Chicago on Tuesday, marking the highest first-half scoring output for the Nuggets this season. Allen Iverson scored 20 of his 22 points in the first half while Carmelo Anthony had 18 of his game-high 26 before the break.
The Nuggets have held three straight opponents to 40 percent shooting or worse after the Bulls managed to shoot exactly that percentage.
“We’re playing defense like we haven’t in the past, and it’s showing,” Nuggets forward Kenyon Martin said. “We’ve got two of the best scorers in the league, so we know our offense will take care of itself. Defensively, when we bring that focus every night, we’re tough to beat.”
The lopsided result allowed Denver coach George Karl to rest his stars a bit to get ready for Wednesday’s game. Iverson logged a team-high 35 minutes - the only Nuggets player to see more than 30 minutes of action.
“We’re playing really well, and we just want to keep it up,” Anthony said. “Take what we did here at home and take it on the road.”
While 10 Nuggets played at least 13 minutes on Tuesday, that’s a luxury Los Angeles (5-4) simply cannot afford. The Clippers haven’t had Elton Brand or Shaun Livingston all season, and are now even more short-handed with Corey Maggette (right hamstring strain) and top draft pick Al Thornton (sprained right ankle) sidelined.
Those absences were evident in a second straight lopsided loss, 92-73 to Chicago on Saturday. The Clippers scored their fewest points in a game all season and shot 39.4 percent - the third time in five games they have failed to reach the 40-percent mark from the floor.
“We’re upset by the loss,” forward Ruben Patterson said. “We’ve got a lot of injuries, a lot of guys hurt. It’s hard out there. I’ve still got my dislocated finger, so it’s still hard for me to get going because I can’t control the ball and do my thing. It’s frustrating, but we’ve got to keep on playing.”
The best option over the last five games has been center Chris Kaman, who is averaging 20.2 points in that span. When Kaman doesn’t get the ball, however, the Clippers are struggling to run their offense.
“Our offense was very stagnant,” forward Tim Thomas said after Saturday’s loss. “We were doing a lot of one-on-one. With a team like that, you can’t go into one-on-one situations because they’re going to stick to the ball pretty well. That was the difference.”
Denver went 2-1 against Los Angeles last season. The teams have met only once since Iverson joined the Nuggets, and he scored 34 points to lead the way in a 96-93 win on April 7.