"They made some shots. Obviously their penetration at times hurt but their 3-point shooting was the difference," Clippers coach Vinny Del Negro said of Denver's uncharacteristic 11 3-pointers.
"Yeah, our 3-point defense has been terrible and part of it tonight, we know how many points they score in transition and in the paint. But tonight, they were in transition some but all their 3s were wide open," Paul said. "It's not a great 3-point shooting team but tonight they were lights out and they were making free throws. They just beat us."
Paul scored 10 straight points as the Clippers pulled to 88-80 early in the fourth quarter, but he was shut out over the final 9:44.
"Chris Paul had the stretch at the end of the third quarter, he was scaring me a little bit," Karl said. "And I thought he was going to try to take over the game, but fortunately, he never got back into rhythm."
A bucket by Griffin, who was coming off his third career triple-double, gave the Clippers a 60-59 lead before the Nuggets scored 20 of the next 24 points.
The Clippers pulled to 85-75 heading into the fourth quarter but never got closer than eight as the Nuggets turned up the heat, outscoring them 13-2 on the fast break in the second half and stretching their lead to 18.
The Clippers sorely missed Jamal Crawford, who sat out with a sore left ankle that he injured in Wednesday night's 117-101 win over Milwaukee in which he scored 25 points.
Without him, they couldn't match the suddenly sharp-shooting Nuggets from long range.
"This team is traditionally known for scoring a lot of points in the paint but tonight they shot the ball well from the outside, as well," Barnes said. "We've got to pick our poison. It's tough they play to their crowd here and they bring a lot of energy and when you're down they step on your throat."
NOTES: Lawson didn't have a single turnover. ... Griffin was held to just two rebounds, tying the low for his career set March 20, 2011, against Phoenix. This was also the first time in his career that he'd been held to two boards and zero blocks. ... With their 41st win, the Nuggets guaranteed Karl his 21st straight non-losing season, tied with Phil Jackson for the longest streak in NBA history.
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