LA Clippers (4-15) at Denver (11-6)

By MATT BEARDMORE, STATS Writer Thursday, Dec 2, 2010 Tipoff: 9:00 pm EST Fri Dec 3, 2010

Even with Carmelo Anthony(notes) making an early exit in each of the last two games, the Denver Nuggets have still been able to come out on top.

The Nuggets might need their All-Star forward to stick around Friday night the way the Los Angeles Clippers have fared against some of the league’s top teams.

Denver looks to post its sixth straight victory overall and ninth in a row at home against the Clippers, who are still searching for their first road win.

Anthony, among the league leaders with 23.2 points per game, scored two and had his streak of 134 regular-season games in double digits snapped in Sunday’s 138-133 win against Phoenix after taking himself out 2:48 into the contest with flu-like symptoms.

The Nuggets (11-6) found themselves without Anthony for the final 14:40 of Wednesday’s 105-94 win over Milwaukee after he picked up two technicals for arguing a non-call. He finished with 14 points.

“We were in a good place when ‘Melo left and I thought we kept it up and sustained it and finished off the game for the first time in a while in the fourth quarter,” said coach George Karl, whose team has won seven in a row at home.

The solid play of swingman J.R. Smith(notes) has helped negate Anthony’s absences and has been a major boost for a bench that has scored 109 points in the last two games.

Smith, who played 65 seconds during a three-game stretch last month, has re-dedicated himself and is back in Karl’s good graces. Smith followed Sunday’s season-high 30-point performance with 20 and a career high-tying 10 rebounds against the Bucks.

“When I got those DNPs two weeks ago it really set into my mind that I’ve got to change the way I look at things,” Smith told the NBA’s official website. “Come in here with my head up and work hard. That’s all they ask for two, three hours a day. It’s the least I could do.”

With the Clippers (4-15) sparked by the return of point guard Baron Davis(notes), who missed the previous 10 games with a sore knee, coach Vinny Del Negro was pleased with the effort in Wednesday’s 90-85 victory over NBA-best San Antonio.

“Baron gave us a big boost,” Del Negro, whose team has won three of five, told the Clippers’ official website. “Overall, just a nice solid team effort.”

While three of Los Angeles’ victories are against Oklahoma City, New Orleans and the Spurs—who are a combined 41-14—the Clippers are yielding 109.1 points per game while posting an 0-8 road record.

Los Angeles’ last 0-9 start away from home was in 1998-99, when it dropped its first 12.

Led by Anthony’s 30 points, the Nuggets won their third in a row over the Clippers and eighth straight in this matchup in Denver, 111-104 on Nov. 5. Blake Griffin(notes) had 26 points and 10 rebounds for Los Angeles.

Griffin, the Western Conference rookie of the month in November, is averaging 29.8 points, 14.0 boards and 4.7 assists over his last six games.

Griffin, though, faces a tough test as he gets his first look at Nene, who missed last month’s matchup with a left groin strain. Nene is averaging 16.4 points and 8.4 rebounds during the Nuggets’ five-game win streak.

Team Stat Leaders



Friday, Dec 3