Clippers vs. Nuggets rematch is a chance to measure up – Orange County Register

Funny how winning even a single game can ease the pain of a sore ankle. Clippers veteran Nicolas Batum has a sprained ankle but when asked how he was feeling two days after a six-game losing streak, he said: “We’re on the winning streak so yeah I’m fine.”

The entire team needs that kind of positive outlook when the Denver Nuggets are next on the schedule. The Nuggets, who lead the Western Conference and have the second-best record in the league at 28-13, blew up the Clippers a week ago, beating them by 31 points in Denver.

Their meltdown was so complete that coach Tyronn Lue benched his starters after the first half, saying he and his coaching staff went to the drawing board “three or four times.” However, nothing he tried changed the outcome.

“I felt good going in, but I didn’t feel good afterward,” Lue said Thursday.

The Clippers (22-21) have a chance to avenge that loss when the Nuggets visit Arena on Friday night and give them a chance “to see what we’re made of,” Lue said.

“They beat us by 40 in their homeland. They kicked our ass,” Lue said. “So tomorrow (we have to go in) be ready and have a different mindset.”

Batum, who sat out the game Jan. 5 because of his ankle, called the Nuggets one of the best teams in the NBA at the moment.

“They have the best player in the NBA and they have a great group. So we can’t let them play the way they want,” Batum said. “… It’s definitely not going to be easy because they play so well as a team.”

The Nuggets are led by center Nikola Jokic, who is averaging 24.9 points, 11 rebounds, 9.4 assists and 1.4 steals. But the two-time league MVP isn’t the only player the Clippers need to focus on.

In the previous game, Jamal Murray led a group of seven to hit double digits in the 122-91 win as the Clippers’ defense faltered, particularly when the second unit was down.

Lue included a three guard lineup when the starters are out to give opponents a clear path to the basket. Lue abandoned that pattern Tuesday in the 113-101 win over the Dallas Mavericks. Clippers vs. Nuggets rematch is a chance to measure up – Orange County Register

Russell Falcon

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