Regular Season Series (Game 2 of 4)

Series starts 11/22

Game 1: Friday, November 22nd
Game 2: Saturday, December 21st
Game 3: Wednesday, March 19th
Game 4: Saturday, April 12th

Nuggets 89


Clippers 92

(12-16, 7-9 home)

    Coverage: FSRM

    7:30 PM ET, December 21, 2002

    STAPLES Center, Los Angeles, CA

    1 2 3 4 T
    DEN 24 28 17 2089
    LAC 24 28 21 1992

    Top Performers

    Denver: J. Howard 30 Pts, 6 Reb, 3 Ast, 1 Stl

    Los Angeles: M. Jaric 22 Pts, 3 Reb, 2 Ast, 6 Stl

    Jaric nets 22 as transition remains smooth

    LOS ANGELES (AP) -- Nothing seems to bother rookie Marko Jaric of the Los Angeles Clippers. Not the transition from Yugoslavia, nor the fact that he is a point guard playing as a shooting guard.

    "I'm just taking advantage of my opportunity,'' Jaric said Saturday night after scoring 20 points in a 92-89 victory over the Denver Nuggets.

    "I'm playing as a two-guard, but that's not my position. I'm a point guard, but we've got so many guys hurt, and Andre Miller's a very,very good player. So I'm just trying to get more and more experience so that one day maybe I can become the point guard.''

    A second-round pick in 2000, the 6-foot-7 Jaric played six seasons in the European professional league with three different teams.

    Jaric has scored in double figures in three of his past five games while filling in for the injured Eric Piatkowski and Quentin Richardson.

    "I'm just trying really hard to find my spot on this team and in this league,'' said Jaric, whose six steals were the most this season by a member of the Clippers.

    "There are so many kids playing basketball in this world and so many kids who want to be in my place. So I feel it's important to give 100 percent of myself to be a player in the NBA. After that, if I see that I don't deserve to play here, I'll still be at peace with myself.''

    The Clippers have Jaric under contract through the next two seasons, which makes his teammates extremely happy.

    "Basketball is basketball wherever you play it. And Marko is a very smart player,'' center Michael Olowokandi said. "Even though he's a rookie, he has a very good understanding of the game -- what passes to make, how to read certain situations, and he manages the clock pretty well. He's been huge for us.''

    Olowokandi scored 18 points, helping send Denver to its eighth straight loss and 13th in 14 games. Tremaine Fowlkes added a season-high 16 points for the Clippers, who have beaten the Nuggets five straight times at home.

    Juwan Howard scored 30 points for Denver, the highest-scoring game by anyone on the Nuggets this season.

    Denver went almost five minutes without a field goal before Junior Harrington made a 16-footer and Donnell Harvey converted a turnover by Keyon Dooling into a breakaway dunk that narrowed the gap to 88-82 with 2:22 remaining.

    Howard made one of two free throws, trimming the margin to five, but Olowokandi blocked a short jumper by rookie Nene Hilario with 43 seconds left and made a jump hook at the other end with 19 seconds left to help clinch it.

    "Inexperience hurt us during the stretch, especially with the young backcourt we have,'' said Denver coach Jeff Bzdelik, who used his 16th different starting lineup and had only 10 players available for the third straight game. "But I was very proud of our effort.''

    The Clippers, who blew a 16-point fourth-quarter lead and lost to the Nuggets the last time the teams met Nov. 22 at Denver, used a 15-0 run to turn a seven-point deficit into a 77-69 lead with 9:43 remaining.

    Fowlkes, who was 10-for-10 from the foul line, hit two free throws with 3:41 left in the third quarter to start the Clippers' rally and sank four more in the final 42 seconds of the period.

    Howard sliced the margin to four with a tip-in and a jump hook, but Jaric responded with a 3-pointer and Dooling dunked over Harvey with 5:19 left for an 85-75 lead -- the Clippers' first by double digits.

    In a game featuring two of the NBA's most injury-riddled teams, the Clippers pulled ahead 51-50 with 57 seconds left in the half as Dooling capped an 11-0 run with a pair of free throws and a 23-footer.

    "The run that really hurt us was the 12-2 run at the end of the first half,'' said Denver's Vincent Yarbrough, who scored 11 of his 16 points in the half. "We still had a lot of confidence that we were going to win, but that really put us down.''

    Game notes

    Howard is the only player on the Nuggets active roster who has averaged more than 11 points in a season. ... The Nuggets have reached 90 points only five times. They are 0-14 when they surrender at least 90 points, and 6-8 when they allow fewer. ... The Nuggets, who are last in the NBA in field goal percentage at 39.5, shot 46.1 percent for the game. It's only the fourth time the Nuggets have reached 45 percent.

    Copyright by STATS LLC and The Associated Press


    Team Stat Comparison

    Points 89 92
    FGM-FGA 35-76 (.461) 27-60 (.450)
    3PM-3PA 2-10 (.200) 6-10 (.600)
    FTM-FTA 17-24 (.708) 32-43 (.744)
    Rebounds (Offensive-Total) 14-35 10-28
    Assists 13 20
    Turnovers 20 19
    Steals 11 8
    Blocks 2 8
    Fast Break Points 3 1
    Fouls (Tech/Flagrant) 30 (2/1) 23 (1/0)

    Top Performers

    Los Angeles
    Juwan Howard Howard
    Points: 30
    Reb: 6
    Ast: 3
    Stl: 1
    Blk: 0
    Marko Jaric Jaric
    Points: 22
    Reb: 3
    Ast: 2
    Stl: 6
    Blk: 0