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Nuggets' sharpshooting cuts down Clippers

By By The Sports Xchange
Published On: Mar 08 2013 07:57:09 AM CST
closeup of basketball seams, ball

Jason Antony/SXC

DENVER -

The Denver Nuggets have been piling up points and wins by attacking the basket.

Thursday, they did it with their outside shooting.

Ty Lawson had 21 points and 11 assists, Danilo Gallinari scored 20 and the Nuggets used a strong second half to beat the Los Angeles Clippers 107-92 for their seventh straight win.

Kenneth Faried had 11 points and 10 rebounds for the Nuggets, who have won 12 straight home games and moved to 19 games above .500.

The Nuggets lead the NBA in points in the paint, but against the Clippers their best weapon was their 3-point shooting. Denver, which hits 34 percent from long range, was 11 of 23 on Thursday.

"We know how many points they score in transition and the paint, but all their threes are wide open," Clippers guard Chris Paul said. "That's not a great 3-point shooting team, but tonight they were lights out."

Denver's sharpshooting helped it win the season series with the Clippers, giving it the tiebreaker should it come into play at the end of the year. Los Angeles, sitting No. 3 in the Western Conference, is 2 1/2 games ahead of the Nuggets but plays just eight times against teams with a winning record.

After Thursday, the Nuggets have 19 games left and are sitting in fifth place in the Western Conference. Coach George Karl said the team is concentrating on catching the Memphis Grizzlies, who are fourth, and not the Clippers.

"I don't even know who the Clippers are playing (in their last 18 games), but I do know who Memphis is playing, and I know our schedule," he said. "If we put 52 (wins) on the board, we can go home and be proud of what we've done. It might take more than that."

Lawson said getting the third seed is not out of reach.

"Our mission since Day 1 was to get home-court advantage," he said. "(If) we keep this streak going, I think it's very possible we can get to fourth and possibly even third."

The Nuggets also have a chance to achieve the best home record in franchise history. They need to win nine of their last 11 at Pepsi Center to reach 36 and set the record.

"It means we were good at home. Tough teams have come in and we beat them," Lawson said. "This is our home court and we have to protect it."

If anyone was going to beat them in Denver, it was L.A. The Clippers had won nine of 10 and five straight on the road coming into Thursday. But fatigue and a scorching opponent caught up to them.

The Nuggets got hot in the third, riding the shooting of Andre Iguodala and Gallinari. Iguodala hit two 3-pointers and Gallinari scored 10 points -- including an alley-oop dunk on a pass from Lawson -- as Denver went from down one to ahead 79-64 with 3:11 left in the period.

"Our confidence came from making something that normally isn't our personality," Karl said. "Ty made the early threes, Iguodala made a three and Gallo made one."

The Clippers were able to get within 10 heading into the fourth and made it 88-80 on Paul's 3-pointer with 10 minutes left. But then they went cold. They missed six of their next seven shots and scored just two points over the next five minutes as Denver pulled away.

"We were missing little, easy shots and allowed them to get in transition," Matt Barnes said. "They pulled away in the second half with their transition offense. We just ran out of gas tonight."

Barnes led the Clippers with 19 points off the bench and Blake Griffin had 17 to go along with a season-low two rebounds. Paul finished with 16 points and 10 assists.

NOTES: Jamal Crawford, the Clippers' second-leading scorer at 17.2 points a game, didn't play because of a sore left ankle. ... Denver had 46 points in the paint, 11 fewer than its season average. ... Since the start of the 2007-08 season, teams coming from the West Coast to Denver to play the second game of a back-to-back are 3-42. The last team to win in Denver the night after playing on the West Coast was the Miami Heat, on Nov. 15. ... Griffin's previous season low in rebounds was four, which he had done four times. The last came Jan. 17 against Minnesota.