DENVER (AP) -- Raef LaFrentz has his own way of dealing with
trade rumors he's involved in.
He ignores them.
Despite talk of a trade, LaFrentz made two free throws in the
last six seconds and had 26 points and 15 rebounds as the Denver
Nuggets ended a four-game losing streak with a 96-93 victory over
the Los Angeles Clippers on Friday night.
"People can say what they want to say, but I haven't been
playing badly," said LaFrentz, who found himself frequently in
coach Dan Issel's doghouse during the four-game skid. "All I can
concentrate on is taking my shots. What did Dan say today?"
Issel laughed, but offered nothing more than an assessment of
"Raef was terrific," Issel said. "He gave us what we needed
on the inside and that tip he had at the end was huge."
LaFrentz was 4-for-5 shooting and 5-for-6 from the line in the
fourth quarter, and Nick Van Exel added 18 points for the Nuggets,
who beat the Clippers for the seventh straight time in Denver.
Quentin Richardson had 16 of his 26 points in the final period
for Los Angeles, which had its two-game winning streak stopped.
Elton Brand had 17 points and 12 rebounds for his 11th
double-double of the season.
"We turned the ball over on some real mental mistakes and we
still had an opportunity to win a game on the road," Los Angeles
coach Alvin Gentry said. "Quentin's fourth quarter didn't surprise
me because he's been playing well."
After LaFrentz's tip of a miss, Van Exel sank two free throws
with 17 seconds left to put Denver ahead 94-91. Lamar Odom missed a
3-pointer with 17.5 seconds left and LaFrentz sealed it with two
"I just missed it," said Odom, who had 10 points and five
rebounds. "It shouldn't have come down to that because we missed
too many free throws and had the slow start."
The Clippers opened the fourth with an 8-0 run, with six of the
points coming from Richardson to lead 74-66. LaFrentz and Van Exel
keyed a 12-2 run with a 3-pointer each to give Denver a 78-76 lead
78-76 with 7:24 left. After LaFrentz put Denver up 90-88 with two
free throws, Richardson hit a 3-pointer with 58 seconds left giving
Los Angeles a 91-90 lead.
In the third quarter, two short jumpers by Brand gave the
Clippers their biggest lead at 58-50, but Van Exel -- who missed his
first eight shots -- hit two straight 3-pointers to pull the Nuggets
ahead 61-60 with 3:08 left in the third.
Sean Rooks' fadeaway jumper from 10 feet in the last 34 seconds
of the third quarter tied it 66-66 for Los Angeles, which led 45-44
"We really needed this one, having to go on a four-game road
trip," Issel said. "It would have been tough to go on a trip
Eric Piatkowski was the only Clipper on the team when it
last won in Denver on March 8, 1998. ... Brand and Jeff McInnis had
the only two field goals in the first eight minutes as Los Angeles
started out 2-for-14 from the field. ... Shawnelle Scott drew the
start at center for Denver to have a bigger body on Michael
Olowokandi. He finished with four points and 10 rebounds in 22
minutes. ... The Nuggets have hit at least one 3-pointer in 209