Blake Griffin had more than a few highlight-reel dunks Thursday night but lacked the same impact he had had in recent contests. Sure, he was efficient around the basket and seemed to find his perimeter stroke, but that's only one aspect of his production. His effort on the boards was poor, and he was routinely outmatched defensively in one of his worst performances this season.
Chris Paul rarely struggles to control a ballgame, but Thursday night he couldn't manifest the same magic that has guided the Clippers since his return. He was still efficient, though, and nearly managed another double-double. A perturbing trend has been his inability to get to the free throw line, a clear sign his knee might not be as healthy as most people think.
The Clippers sorely lacked Caron Butler's offensive punch and shooting ability against the Jazz, and he didn't help much against the Nuggets. Although he was his normal aggressive self offensively, he couldn't find his shot and was reluctant to stop shooting. Danilo Gallinari had his number all night, using his 6-foot-10 frame to prevent Butler from getting off clean looks.
Thursday's game was a real-life rendition of the classic children's fable. The Clippers got off to a fast start, led by double digits in the first quarter and looked to be on their way to their fifth consecutive victory. The Nuggets, however, hung around just enough to sneak into halftime with a lead and managed to blow the Clippers out in the second half.
The Nuggets put on a show, dissecting the Clippers' defense, creating perimeter mismatches and finishing off almost every possession with a layup or 3-pointer. They looked even better than the Clippers have at their best. Where the Nuggets and Clippers differ, though, is that Denver turned up the intensity on defense and shut out L.A. after halftime.