Clippers-Nuggets Preview

The Associated Press

While the Denver Nuggets' home winning streak already is quite impressive, the quality of competition they've faced during the run makes it even more noteworthy.

It likely won't be easy adding the surging Los Angeles Clippers to that list.

Denver seeks a 12th straight home win Thursday night against a Los Angeles team that has won five straight road games.

The Nuggets (40-22), who are 26-3 at the Pepsi Center, have been solid no matter where they've played lately, winning six straight and 16 of their last 20 overall after beating Sacramento 120-113 on the road Tuesday.

Ty Lawson is averaging 23.8 points over his last 11 games after scoring 24, and Danilo Gallinari added 23 for Denver, which ranks third in the NBA at 105.7 points per game.

"Early in the season we lost some leads on the road in the fourth quarter, and we lost some tough games lately,'' said coach George Karl, whose team is averaging 112.0 points during its six-game streak. "But we're a young team and young teams will do that. We are maturing and finding our identity a little better.''

The Nuggets' home winning streak began with an overtime victory against Oklahoma City on Jan. 20, and they also knocked off the Thunder 105-103 on Friday.

Denver, which hasn't won 12 straight at home since March 16-April 19, 2005, also has wins over Indiana, Houston, Milwaukee, Chicago, Boston and Atlanta during the streak - all clubs currently in playoff position.

It's getting solid efforts lately from multiple players, as Kenneth Faried finished with 19 points and 12 rebounds and Andre Miller added 16 points off the bench Tuesday.

"You never know who's going to grab the steering wheel and who's going to drive us home,'' Karl told the team's official website.

Lawson sat out with a strained left Achilles when the Clippers visited the Pepsi Center on Jan. 1, but Gallinari scored 17 points and Faried added 14 and 11 rebounds as the Nuggets won 92-78.

Another home victory over Los Angeles, which shot only 38.5 percent overall in that contest while going 5 of 29 from 3-point range and 13 of 29 from the free-throw line, may not come as easily this time.

The Pacific Division-leading Clippers (44-19) have won nine of their last 11 after Wednesday's 117-101 victory over Milwaukee, as Blake Griffin recorded his third career triple-double with 23 points, 11 rebounds and a career-high 11 assists.

Jamal Crawford, who scored a game-high 22 points in the Clippers' 112-100 win over Denver on Christmas Day, netted a game-high 25 points off the bench Wednesday and is averaging 23.0 while shooting 59.3 percent over his last four.

He lauded Griffin's all-around effort.

"He's doing everything,'' Crawford said of Griffin, who has averaged just 12.3 points in his last three games against Denver. "He demands a lot of attention down (low), so he's getting double-teamed and kicking out to our shooters. He's making the right play all of the time.''

While Griffin has struggled somewhat in this series, Karl isn't expecting anything but brilliance from Chris Paul, who is averaging 20.0 points and 10.0 assists in his last four contests.

"I think he's one of the guys that I think almost wills wins," Karl said. "Not only is he very talented and very skilled, but he has an approach and attitude to the game that beating him is offensive to him."

The Clippers have won six of the last eight meetings with the Nuggets.

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