Los Angeles at Denver

Red-hot Clips hold off Nuggets

CBSSports.com wire reports
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DENVER -- Kenyon Martin spent seven seasons patrolling the paint in Denver. He gave the Pepsi Center crowd something else to remember him by Wednesday night.

Martin helped beat his old team with a tip-in and blocked shot in the final half-minute, leading the Los Angeles Clippers past the Nuggets 104-98 in a crucial game between teams jockeying for playoff position.

"It's about winning basketball," Martin said. "Just never quit playing no matter what the situation is, always put yourself in a position to make plays. Just trying to get a `W.' We're fighting for playoff position. We did an excellent job as a unit just staying with it."

Martin, especially. He tipped in Chris Paul's missed jumper with 27 seconds left and the game tied at 96.

"That was my only rebound tonight," said Martin, who logged 30 minutes. "So, it was perfect timing."

He wasn't finished.

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Martin hustled back down court and blocked Ty Lawson at the other end with 20 seconds remaining.

After a timeout, Paul drew what the Nuggets thought was a phantom foul and made two free throws with 18.3 seconds left to make it a four-point game.

The Nuggets got back within two on Lawson's free throws with 16 seconds left, but Mo Williams, who scored 19 points and came up huge in the fourth quarter, replied with two free throws and Paul capped the game with an uncontested dunk to finish with 24 points.

Martin wasn't exactly welcomed back by the crowd that used to cheer his every move.

"It's cool, whatever. It's about winning, it's not about anything else," Martin said. "They are cheering for their team, which I expect them to do. I had a good seven years here and they cheered for me every time I was here. I was here for a long time, played a lot of winning basketball, made the playoffs seven years, seven out of seven."

Martin and the Nuggets went their separate ways after last season. Martin played in China briefly during the NBA lockout, then signed a one-year deal with the Clippers, whose coach, Vinny Del Negro, is now enjoying the many things the veteran forward brings to his lineup.

"He has instincts for the ball with his athleticism and quickness. He can read situations because he has that experience," Del Negro said. "He made a big tip-in, had a big block. He helps us anchor our defense because he can switch out at the end of games and guard guards, 2s, 3s and you don't have to double at all with him. He just gives you more versatility."

And game-winning plays in crunch time.

That it was Martin who beat them made this loss all the more painful for the Nuggets, who are 1½ games ahead of eighth-place Utah.

"He made some big plays down the stretch," guard Arron Afflalo said. "You hate to single out one singular play as to why you lose a basketball game, but the rebound and the block were huge for them."

With their 13th win in 15 games, the Clippers kept pressure on the Lakers as the two L.A. teams took their fight for first place in the Pacific Division down to the wire.

Despite 24 points from Lawson, the Nuggets lost at home for the first time since March 19, and slipped into seventh place in the West, a half-game behind Dallas, which beat Houston 117-110 on Wednesday.

The Nuggets have four games left, three on the road, as they try to secure their ninth straight trip to the playoffs.

"We're going to have to win a couple more games," Denver coach George Karl said.

The Clippers matched their season-high with 14 3-pointers, including four each from Caron Butler and Williams and three from Nick Young.

Two of Williams' 3s came during a 10-0 run the Clippers used to turn an 87-82 deficit into a 92-87 lead.

Williams' most impressive 3-pointer came with the Clippers clinging to a 92-89 lead. Paul lost the handle on the ball with the shot clock winding down, Williams scooped it up and let loose an off-balance prayer that swished as the buzzer went off, giving the Clippers a six-point lead with 3 minutes left.

Notes

  • Nuggets G Wilson Chandler's season is done because of a bad hip. He said he hopes to have surgery next week.
  • Kosta Koufos was called for a foul one time even though Paul was hanging on his left arm.
  • The Clippers also hit 14 3s in Denver on Jan. 29.
Copyright 2014 by STATS LLC and The Associated Press. Any commercial use or distribution without the express written consent of STATS LLC and The Associated Press is strictly prohibited.
 
 
 
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Kenyon Martin smiles after he helps the Clippers take down his former team with crucial plays in the final minute of action. (Getty Images)
Kenyon Martin smiles after he helps the Clippers take down his former team with crucial plays in the final minute of action. (Getty Images)

Scoreboard
L.A. Clippers (39-23) «22252928104
Denver (34-28)3419232298
LAC:C. Paul 21 Pts
LAC:D. Jordan 9 Reb
LAC:C. Paul 8 Ast
DEN:T. Lawson 24 Pts
DEN:K. Koufos 9 Reb
DEN:A. Miller 8 Ast
Players of the Game
Los AngelesDenver

Chris Paul

Ty Lawson
PtsRebsAstPtsRebsAst
21482446
Los Angeles
C. Paul, PG358-194-548521
D. Jordan, C302-20-09024
B. Griffin, PF305-122-675512
C. Butler, SF235-100-041114
R. Foye, PG204-92-220212
K. Martin, PF302-53-41117
M. Williams, PG286-113-334419
N. Young, SG255-80-020413
E. Bledsoe, PG131-10-02232
B. Simmons, SF60-10-01010
C. Billups, PGDid Not Play
R. Evans, PFDid Not Play
R. Gomes, SFDid Not Play
T. Leslie, PGDid Not Play
T. Thompkins, PFDid Not Play
Totals 38-7814-20352128104
 48.7%70.0% 
Denver
A. Afflalo, SG385-111-231112
T. Lawson, PG379-144-546024
D. Gallinari, SF280-74-43234
K. Faried, SF254-64-760312
K. Koufos, C235-62-291312
A. Harrington, PF324-124-481114
A. Miller, PG265-102-248412
C. Brewer, SF161-30-01042
J. McGee, C153-40-01026
C. Andersen, PFDid Not Play
W. Chandler, SFDid Not Play
R. Fernandez, SGDid Not Play
J. Hamilton, SGDid Not Play
T. Mozgov, CDid Not Play
J. Stone, PGDid Not Play
Totals 36-7321-2639192198
 49.3%80.8% 
Other Games
Phi 103 Final
Cle 87
Mil 112 Final
Wash 121
Chi 100 Final
Char 68
Det 84 Final
Atl 116
Tor 72 Final
Mia 96
NY 104 Final
NJ 95
Orl 98 Final
Bos 102
NO 91 Final
Mem 103
Hou 110 Final
Dal 117
OKC 109 Final
Pho 97
Utah 112 Final
Port 91
SA 127 Final
Sac 102
LAL 99 Final
GS 87