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Richardson notches 44 points, 10 boards

LOS ANGELES (AP) -- An old acquaintance wasn't forgotten on New
Year's Eve at Staples Center, when an unforgiving crowd gave Denver
point guard Andre Miller the Danny Ferry treatment and booed him
every time he touched the ball.

Quentin Richardson scored almost every time he touched the ball
-- or so it seemed. He scored a career-high 44 points and Elton
Brand had 20 points and nine rebounds in the Los Angeles Clippers'
120-104 victory over Denver on Wednesday night.

"I was in a zone," said Richardson, who made a career-high 17
field goals on 30 shots and was 5-for-9 from 3-point range. "I
felt like every shot I took was going in. You don't start feeling
like you have the stroke until you start to make a lot more shots,
but I had a sense I had it going when I made my first two bank
shots."

Richardson, whose previous best output was 36 points in a 103-91
loss at Minnesota on Nov. 22, scored 11 points in the fourth
quarter -- including a three-point play and a 3-point shot in the
final two minutes after the Nuggets cut it to nine.

"When a guy is hot like that, there's nothing you can do about
it. I don't care who you put on him," Denver rookie Carmelo
Anthony said.

Richardson's point total was the second-highest by a Clipper in
either Los Angeles or San Diego. Charles Smith dropped 52 on the
Nuggets on Dec. 1, 1990 in 137-121 win at Denver, back when the
Nuggets were coached by fast-break disciple Paul Westhead.

Richardson became the first Clipper to reach the 40-point mark
since Dominique Wilkins had 42 against the Lakers on April 16,
1994, at the L.A. Sports Arena.

"We were getting the ball into Q's hands and he took care of
the rest," Clippers coach Mike Dunleavy said after his team put up
its highest point total of the season. "We were just feeding him
until he cooled. He had a strong post game and a strong 3-point
game. he was making good decisions and good plays off the
dribble."

Voshon Lenard and Andre Miller each had 18 points for the
Nuggets, who have lost eight of their last 10 against Los Angeles.

Miller, who also had nine assists, sulked his way through his
only season with the Clippers before signing a free agent contract
with the Nuggets in August. But at least Miller didn't bolt for
Italy the way Ferry did when the Clippers made him the second
overall pick in the 1989 draft.

Anthony, who entered with a team-high 18.7 scoring average, was
plagued all night by foul trouble and finished with 12 points in 22
minutes.

"Tonight was just one of those nights," said Anthony, the
fourth overall pick in the draft. "When you get in early foul
trouble, it's hard to stay mentally focused the rest of the game."

The Clippers opened the fourth quarter with a three-point lead
and extended it to 95-85 with 8:43 remaining on a three-point play
by Corey Maggette, who had 20 points. The Nuggets never got closer
than seven on an alley-oop feed from Miller to Anthony with 7:40
left, as the Clippers ran off the next seven points.

The Clippers opened the third quarter with a 20-6 run. Rookie
center Chris Kaman capped the rally with a reverse layup in heavy
traffic with five minutes left in the quarter, after Marko Jaric
drove the lane and dished off to him at the last instant. The
Nuggets closed to 84-81 by the end of the quarter on a dunk by
Chris Andersen with a second left.

Denver led 56-52 at halftime despite giving up 24 points by
Richardson and getting outrebounded 26-11.

Anthony, who had 30 points against the Clippers in an overtime
loss on Nov. 7 at Denver, was on the bench during a 9:56 stretch of
the first half after picking up two fouls with the game less than
six minutes old.

Richardson seized the moment, scoring 12 points in the final
3:50 of the first quarter and fueling a 16-6 run that turned a
four-point Clippers deficit into a 27-23 lead. But the Nuggets
responded in the second quarter with a 15-4 spurt, capped by a
3-pointer from Lenard that gave them a 40-35 lead.

Anthony who has fouled out in only one of his first 32 games in
the NBA, picked up his next two fouls less than three minutes apart
early in the third quarter and did not return until 8:58 remained
in the contest.

"He had a tough night, but he's going to have those nights. You
just have to pick him up as a team and we didn't do that,"
teammate Jeff Trepagnier said.

Game Notes: Denver's Marcus Camby was scratched because of a strained
left groin. ... The Clippers finished 2003 with a 28-51 record.
It's the 10th time they won fewer than 30 games in a calendar year
since moving from San Diego to Los Angeles in 1994. Their only year
since then with a winning record was 1992 (44-34). ... Clippers C
Predrag Drobjnak, who missed the previous six games because of back
spasms, was activated from the injured list before the game but did
not play.