Griffin leads Clippers past Nuggets
DENVER (AP) — Blake Griffin had 25 points and 11 rebounds, and the Los Angeles Clippers closed out their exhibition schedule with a 106-94 victory over the Denver Nuggets on Thursday night.
The Clippers (5-3) open the regular season on Wednesday against Memphis. Denver (3-3) plays its exhibition finale Friday night against Phoenix before opening the season at Philadelphia, also on Wednesday.
Chris Paul, who missed Wednesday night’s 97-91 exhibition victory over the Lakers after colliding with a teammate in practice, had 10 points and 12 assists in his return to the Clippers’ lineup. He seemed in sync with Griffin, connecting with him on several alley-oops that ended in dunks.
Caron Butler added 16 points and Jamal Crawford had 14 for the Clippers.
Corey Brewer led the Nuggets with 15 points. JaVale McGee had 13 and Kosta Koufos finished with 12.
Denver coach George Karl said the 7-foot Koufos has a slight edge over McGee and Timofey Mozgov in the competition for the starting center spot.
The Clippers gained command when they began the third quarter with a 9-0 burst, capped by a bank shot by Griffin and a 3-pointer by Paul. Another dunk by Griffin gave the Clippers an 89-71 lead with 2:58 left in the third and Los Angeles carried a 93-75 lead into the fourth quarter.
Both teams made roster moves prior to the game. The Clippers waived forward Trent Plaisted and guard Hank Thorns, trimming their roster to 16 players, one over the regular-season limit. The Nuggets were at the 15-player limit after releasing guards Anthony Carter and Ben Uzoh.
NOTES: The Clippers’ Chauncey Billups, who is coming off left Achilles tendon surgery, and Trey Thompkins (left knee bone bruise) did not play. … The Nuggets were without Wilson Chandler, who underwent dental surgery this week. He’s also been bothered by a sore left hip.