Two months ago in Los Angeles, the Denver Nuggets suffered a rare loss to the Clippers. The Nuggets have reason to believe things will be different with a rematch on their home court.
Northwest Division-leading Denver looks to continue its dominance at the Pepsi Center on Thursday night when it opens a three-game homestand against a Clippers team trying to avoid its eighth straight loss on the road.
The Nuggets (27-14) are coming off Wednesday’s 123-118 overtime victory at Golden State for their fourth win in a row.
Chauncey Billups(notes), playing in his sixth game since missing eight with a strained left groin, carried Denver down the stretch, scoring 10 points in overtime to finish with a career high-tying 37. The four-time All-Star also had eight assists and eight rebounds to help the Nuggets remain two games ahead of second-place Portland in the Northwest.
Since returning from the injury, Billups is averaging 26.3 points and Denver is 5-1.
“I said I didn’t want to come back until I was able to do what I do,” Billups said. “I’m feeling good. Ever since I came back, I haven’t felt (the injury) one day.”
The Nuggets are the only division leader with a losing road record (9-11) and these road woes were exposed with a 106-99 loss to the Clippers at Staples Center on Nov. 20. Anthony finished with 37 points, but Billups had only five on 1 of 5 shooting as Denver’s seven-game winning streak in the series ended.
The Nuggets have still won five straight over Los Angeles at the Pepsi Center since a 105-87 loss on Jan. 27, 2006.
The Clippers (19-22) aren’t the only team that struggles in Denver.
The Nuggets have won five in a row at the Pepsi Center and own the league’s second-best home record at 18-3. Two of those losses came when Billups was hurt, leaving the team without its floor general.
Billups is instrumental to Denver’s offense, which averages 113.1 points at home - 11.1 better than it averages on the road.
All of this doesn’t seem to favor Los Angeles, which struggles on the road and is 2-16 when allowing at least 100 points.
The Clippers, who are opening a season-high eight-game road trip, have lost seven straight away from home since a 112-107 overtime win over Philadelphia on Dec. 19. Rarely have the games been close with Los Angeles being outscored by an average of 16.6 points during that stretch.
Poor defense has been the biggest reason for the skid, as the Clippers are yielding an average of 113.0 points and 50.6 percent shooting in their last five road games.
Los Angeles arrives in Denver following a 104-97 win over Chicago.
Chris Kaman(notes), playing his second game after missing the previous four because of a sore back, finished with 20 points and 11 rebounds - the 14th time in 15 games he’s scored at least 20 points. In his six previous NBA seasons, the 7-footer had never scored 20 in three consecutive games.
“I’ve expanded my range in shooting the basketball,” Kaman said. “On top of all that, my teammates are looking to throw me the ball. They know how I’m performing and taking care of business, and I think they trust me now.”
Camby, who spent six seasons with the Nuggets from 2002-08, is third in the league in rebounding with 12.0 per game, but he was limited to just three boards against his former team in November.