Nationals

Nuggets end Clippers' team-record win streak at 17

201301012045747300227-p2.jpeg

Nuggets end Clippers' team-record win streak at 17

DENVER (AP) Even the NBA's hottest team can have a bad night.

The Denver Nuggets took advantage of the Los Angeles Clippers' shooting woes Tuesday night, getting 17 points from Danilo Gallinari in a 92-78 victory that snapped the Clippers' franchise-record, 17-game winning streak.

Poor shooting, particularly from 3-point range (5 of 29, 17.2 percent) and the free-throw line (13 of 29, 44.8 percent) doomed the Clippers' streak, the longest in the NBA since the Boston Celtics won 19 in a row from Nov. 15-Dec. 23, 2008. The Clippers avoided matching their season-low in points when Eric Bledsoe hit a jumper in the final seconds.

``Throughout the course of the game, it's tough when you're missing shots, but at the same time you have games like that and you have to figure out how to get around it, which we didn't do,'' said Blake Griffin, who had 12 points but shot less than 50 percent from the field (4 of 11) for the first time in 18 games.

``That's the result of a game like this. We did a poor job defensively and that carried into our offense with missing shots. It snowballed and just went downhill.''

The Nuggets, of course, had something to do with that and Andre Iguodala said the victory against the Clippers, who built their streak in part with a Christmas Day win against Denver in Los Angeles, would help the Nuggets build ``our confidence, our swagger.

``The Clippers have been playing with that the last 18 games. That builds into them winning. They have the mentality every night they're going to go out there and win. We've got to build the same thing and try to string along the same type of win streak.''

The loss was the first for the Clippers since a 105-98 setback against New Orleans on Nov. 26. It also marked the end of a franchise-record seven-game winning streak on the road.

Kenneth Faried added 14 points and 11 rebounds for the Nuggets, who won their eighth in a row at home.

Bledsoe scored 12 points, DeAndre Jordan had 11 and Chris Paul 10 for the Clippers.

``Maybe two or three of the 3's that we missed, they had a hand in our face,'' Paul said. ``But we got all the shots that we wanted. There are going to be nights like that. It just hasn't happened for a while.''

Andre Miller had 12 points and 12 assists for the Nuggets starting in place of point guard Ty Lawson, who has been bothered by tightness in his left Achilles' tendon for the past week and missed a game for the first time this season.

``We don't win this game without Andre,'' Nuggets coach George Karl said. ``He just got us easy baskets, got a lot of guys involved, gave our team a lot of confidence.''

Miller wasn't taking all the credit.

``It was a good win against a good team. We beat them every quarter,'' he said. ``It was a weird game, kind of slow. Both teams want to get up and down the court. It was one of those nights where we fell into some easy baskets. We controlled our turnovers and had the energy on our side.''

Iguodala helped out at point guard and chipped in with 12 points and eight assists for Denver, which lost 112-100 to the Clippers in Los Angeles on Christmas Day.

After Bledsoe hit a 3-pointer to pull the Clippers within 65-58 with 1:54 left in the third quarter, the Nuggets scored eight of the next nine points, including JaVale McGee's first career 3-pointer at the buzzer to take a 75-59 lead into the fourth quarter. McGee, who had a dunk off an alley-oop from Miller on Denver's previous possession, hadn't even tried a 3-pointer in a game all season until then. He blew on his shooting hand after making the 3 as if to cool it off.

The Clippers got within 87-73 with 4:02 remaining when Griffin made one of two free throws, but the Nuggets, as they did throughout the game, had an answer with Iguodala getting loose in the paint for a slam. The Clippers didn't threaten the rest of the way.

The Nuggets took a 12-point lead with 3:01 left in the second quarter when Faried buried a short hook shot before settling for a 48-43 halftime advantage.

Los Angeles closed the period with a 9-2 run, starting with Paul converting a three-point play followed by Jordan's dunk off a lob from Paul.

NOTES: Clippers PG Chauncey Billups, a former Nugget and native of Denver, missed the game as he continues to recover from a foot injury that has kept him on the sideline this season. ... The Clippers began a stretch of four games in five days that resumes Wednesday in Oakland against the Golden State Warriors. ... The Nuggets improved to 5-1 on New Year's Day. ... Miller had a double-double for the 204th time in his career and the first time this season. ... The Clippers' 17-game streak was the second-longest ever snapped by the Nuggets. The Chicago Bulls were on an 18-game run when the Nuggets beat them on Feb. 4, 1996.

Quick Links

3 Up, 3 Down: Allow Juan Soto to distract you from Bryce Harper

usatsi_10899685.jpg
USA TODAY

3 Up, 3 Down: Allow Juan Soto to distract you from Bryce Harper

Nationals fans are teetering on the edge. 

On one hand, the Nats are 3.5 games out of first place after a 10-week span full of injuries and underperformance. The team just acquired All-Star closer Kelvin Herrera, and their 19-year-old left fielder looks like an All-Star already. 

On the other hand, doom is imminent. The Monstars stole Bryce Harper's abilities at some point over the last three weeks, Steven Strasburg can't stay healthy, and the offense is pushing everyone's patience to the limit. 

So who's overperforming? Who's underperforming? Who's out there just trying their very best? LET'S LIST. 

Three Up

1. Juan Soto

Our large young son Juan continues to impress. He's now hitting .325/.411/.602 with a 1.013 OPS in 95 plate appearances over 25 games. That means we're mercifully starting to leave the 'fluky start' narrative behind. He's been the best hitter on the Nationals by a wide margain since he got called up - although that's perhaps more of an indicitment on the rest of the lineup than it is on Soto. Still, in less than a month he's probably earned the starting left field spot for the rest of the summer. Not bad. 

2. Justin Miller

Miller is 31, on his third team in four years, and owns a career ERA north of 4.50. Despite all of this, Miller's been the best reliever in baseball since coming up for the Nats. Of relief pitchers with at least 10 innings pitched (we hear your sample size comment and are not going to acknolwdge it), no one has a better FIP than Miller (0.64). He's striking out over half of the batters he sees and has yet to walk a single person this year. All the elite relief pitchers are already at 30-40 innings pitched, so Miller has a while to go before these stats mean a whole lot. If he stays even 75 percent as good as he's started, the Nats' bullpen looks scary. 

3. Michael A. Taylor

Have yourself a week or two, Michael A.! The centerfielder is slashing .500/.556/.583 over the last 14 days, the first of many "Maybe He Put It Together?!" runs we'll see from him this year. He also has six stolen bases during that span, more than anyone else on the team. His plate discipline has been better over the last two weeks, with a BB% a shade over 11 percent - only behind Juan Soto for highest on the team. Juan Soto, man. 

Three Down

1. Bryce Harper

A couple things here. We'll start with the admission that Bryce Harper is obviously not having a superb year. We've already briefly touched on why looking at only his batting average is a lazy way of judging his season, and we stand by that. With that said - Harper's had a bad season. The last month has been particularly painful. There's no way of dressing up a .189/.278/.400 slashline over the last 30 days. Still, his contact has been as great as his luck terrible - there's a positive regression coming, we promise. 

2. Pedro Severino 

And you think Harper's been slumping?? Over the same 30 days, Severino has hit .098/.179/.115 with a .294 OPS. He's essentially daring the Nats to put together a trade package for JT Realmuto at this point. He has six hits over his last 68 plate appearances and five of them are singles. 

3. Shawn Kelley

Kelley owns a 6.09 FIP and a 4.32 ERA over the last month (10 games, 8.1 innings pitched). He's walking close to nine percent of the hitters he's faced during that time. He has a 12.5 HR/FB over the last month. With the trade for Kelvin Herrera and the sudden emergence of Justin Miller, Kelley's role going forward isn't quite as clear anymore. 

MORE NATS NEWS:

Quick Links

Wizards 2018 NBA Draft prospect profile: Jerome Robinson

usatsi_10685702.jpg
USA TODAY Sports

Wizards 2018 NBA Draft prospect profile: Jerome Robinson

The Washington Wizards hold the 15th and 44th overall picks in the 2018 NBA Draft. Here is the latest in our series on draft prospects projected to be picked around where the Wizards will select...

2018 NBA Draft Wizards Prospect Preview: Jerome Robinson

School: Boston College
Position: Shooting guard
Age: 21
Height: 6-5
Weight: 188
Wingspan: 6-7
Max vertical: N/A

2017/18 stats: 20.7 ppg, 3.6 rpg, 3.3 apg, 0.9 spg, 0.1 bpg, 48.5 FG%, 40.9 3PT% (2.3 3PT/5.7 3PA), 83.0 FT%
Player comparison: Danny Green
Projections: NBC Sports Washington 29th, NBADraft.net 16th, Bleacher Report 19th, Sports Illustrated 17th

5 things to know:

*A three-year player at BC, Robinson developed into a big-time scorer before making the leap to the NBA. He averaged 18.7 points as a sophomore and then 20.7 points as a junior while improving his shooting percentages across the board. He went from 42.3 percent from the field as a sophomore to 48.5 in 2017-18.

*Robinson turned himself into an excellent three-point shooter. After shooting just 33.3 percent as a sophomore, he got that up to 40.9 percent as a junior and on 5.7 attempts per game. That trajectory bodes well for Robinson's chances at the next level.

*He has a quick release on his jumper, giving him the ability to be effective on catch-and-shoot plays off screens. Robinson could develop into a reliable scorer who doesn't need the ball in his hands as a primary focus of the offense. He also showed the ability to throw down some powerful dunks and finish with creativity at the rim. He didn't record a vertical leap at the NBA Combine, but playing above and around the rim didn't appear to be a problem in college.

*Though it didn't show in his last season at Boston College, Robinson was adept at forcing turnovers in his first two years. He averaged 1.6 steals per game across his freshman and sophomore seasons and 16 times in his career had three steals or more in a game.

*Questions for Robinson would include his versatility and speed. Some draft evaluators wonder if he will be able to get separation off the dribble at the NBA level. Also, he put up decent rebounding and assists numbers in college but didn't exactly stand out in either category.

Fit with Wizards: Robinson would give the Wizards depth at the shooting guard position and they need that. He could help Bradley Beal pare down his minutes and offer a scoring punch off the Wizards' bench. The Wizards could use a reliable shooter to help space the floor for Kelly Oubre, Jr. and others in the second unit.

The problems with Robinson's fit would be his lack of positional versatility and what appears to be a relatively low ceiling. He's not the freak athlete that some of his counterparts are at shooting guard. If the Wizards are choosing between Robinson and guys like Zhaire Smith and Lonnie Walker IV, they could view the latter two as more enticing because of their potential. Robinson would represent a safer pick while others could pay off big-time and have a greater impact on the franchise in the long-term.

Best highlight video:

More draft prospect profiles:

Kevin Knox, PF, Kentucky

Miles Bridges, SF, Michigan State

Robert Williams, PF/C, Texas A&M

Shai Gilgeous-Alexander, PG, Kentucky

Zhaire Smith, SG, Texas Tech

Landry Shamet, PG/SG, Wichita State

Gary Trent, Jr., SG, Duke

Lonnie Walker IV, SG, Miami

Anfernee Simons, PG/SG, IMG Academy

Khyri Thomas, SG, Creighton

Chandler Hutchison, SG/SF, Boise State

Kevin Huerter, SG, Maryland

Mitchell Robinson, C, Western Kentucky

Troy Brown, SG/SF, Oregon

Donte DiVincenzo, SG, Villanova

Moritz Wagner, PF/C, Michigan

Aaron Holiday, PG, UCLA

Keita Bates-Diop, SF, Ohio State

For more on the NBA Draft, check out our latest episode of the Wizards Tipoff podcast:

NBC Sports Washington is on Apple News. Favorite us!