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Nuggets snap Clippers' win streak at 17 games

The SportsXchange

DENVER -- Lob City moved to Colorado for a night, but it was the Denver Nuggets taking over the role as the high-flying team.

The Los Angeles Clippers, for one game, brought brick city, and it resulted in their first loss in 36 days.

Danilo Gallinari scored 17 points, Andre Miller had 12 points and 12 assists in his first start of the season, and the Nuggets ended the Clippers' 17-game winning streak with a 92-78 win Tuesday night.

Blake Griffin scored 12 points, and DeAndre Jordan had 11 points and 11 rebounds for the Clippers, who lost for the first time since falling at home to the New Orleans Hornets on Nov. 26.

"We're just upset about the loss. We didn't care about the streak," Los Angeles guard Chris Paul said.

The Clippers were incredibly efficient during their winning streak, but they couldn't buy a shot from the outside Tuesday night. Los Angeles shot 5-for-29 (17.2 percent) from 3-point range and at one point missed 10 straight.

"We all got shots we'd love to get cracks at again," Clippers guard Jamal Crawford said. "It happens sometimes. It's a long season. It's a little frustrating, especially when they're good shots."

Los Angeles was mostly dominant during the longest winning run in the league this season. Only three times did the Clippers win games by five points or fewer, and they beat the Nuggets by 12 at the Staples Center on Christmas Day.

It was a different story on New Year's Day. Denver, missing point guard Ty Lawson due to a strained left Achilles tendon, had six players in double figures and was in front most of the game.

The Nuggets led by as many as 12 points in the first half before the Clippers cut it to 48-43 with a run late in the second quarter. Los Angeles got within one on a putback by Jordan early in the third and had a chance to take the lead after a Denver turnover but couldn't convert.

That's when the Nuggets took charge. Five straight misses by the Clippers and a fadeaway by Miller made it an eight-point lead, and rookie Evan Fournier soon hit a 3-pointer to give Denver a 12-point edge again.

The Nuggets then closed the third quarter with a flourish. JaVale McGee finished an alley-oop dunk from Miller -- one of five by Denver -- and then hit a buzzer-beating 3-pointer to give the Nuggets a 75-59 lead heading into the fourth.

"I saw Lamar Odom sitting in the paint and I told (McGee), 'If you're open, you shoot the ball,'" Miller said. "I didn't think he was going to step out to the 3. I thought he was going to take the 15-footer, but it was a big energy change going into the fourth quarter."

McGee did a little dance as he went back to the bench and then saluted the crowd sitting behind the Nuggets players.

"I had my celebration ready, so I had to use it," McGee said of his first career 3-pointer. "I was stirring the pot and tasting it because the 3 was that good."

The Clippers got within 13 early in the fourth, but Denver never let them get close in the final 12 minutes. The visitors hurt themselves with poor shooting from 3-point range and from the foul line, where they went 13-for-29.

"There's going to be nights like that, it just hadn't been like that in a while," Paul said.

Kenneth Faried finished with 14 points and 11 rebounds for Denver, which has won eight straight at home.

"All of our bigs did what they were supposed to do," Nuggets coach George Karl said. "Be strong, stay strong, take fouls when you have to, don't back down."

NOTES: Lawson has been bothered by the Achilles for about a week but hadn't missed a game this season until Tuesday. ... Clippers coach Vinny Del Negro played on the 1995-96 San Antonio Spurs team that won 17 straight before losing. He downplayed the comparison to the team he is in charge of now. "I think we won 24 of 25," he said. "That was then, this is now. Different team, different time. The streak is great, we want to keep winning basketball games, but we have to find ways to get better and stay consistent." He also dismissed the notion that the streak has put a target on his Clippers. "We don't really focus on that," he said. "We're focusing in on executing the game plan and if we do the things that we're capable of doing then the streak will take care of itself." ... The Nuggets have snapped a long winning streak for the second time. They stopped Chicago's run at 18 games with a win in Denver on Feb. 4, 1996. ... Denver forward Wilson Chandler, who has been limited to four games while recovering from offseason hip surgery, hopes to return to the lineup soon. He began practicing last week and is targeting a return Jan. 13 against Golden State.
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