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Nuggets clip LA’s wings

DENVER – The high-flying Los Angeles Clippers failed to stretch their 17-game NBA winning streak into the New Year, slipping to defeat against the Denver Nuggets at the Pepsi Centre last night.

Denver Nuggets forward Kenneth Faried pulls down another rebound against the Los Angeles Clippers last night.

The Nuggets stopped the Clippers’ club record run with a 92-78 victory, the visitors’ first defeat since the November 26 loss at home to New Orleans.

The Clippers came into the contest riding high, their 107-96 victory over the Utah Jazz on Sunday making them just the third team in league history to go 16-0 in a single calendar month. The streak was the longest in the NBA since the Boston Celtics won 19 straight from November 15-December 23 in 2008.

On Tuesday, however, the Clippers never led after the first quarter and coach Vinny Del Negro said his team were simply outplayed by the Nuggets.

Danilo Gallinari scored 17 points and added six rebounds. Kenneth Faried scored 14 points with 11 rebounds for the Nuggets, who have won three of their past four games. Blake Griffin and Eric Bledsoe led the Clippers with 12 points apiece.

A close first quarter ended with the Nuggets leading 21-19. The hosts reeled off seven straight points to open the second and held a comfortable lead for much of the period, although Clippers’ reserve guard Jamal Crawford scored the last four points of the half to trim the deficit to 48-43.

The Nuggets closed the third quarter with a 10-1 scoring run. They took a 75-59 lead into the fourth, and the Clippers didn’t get closer than 13 points in the final quarter.

In New York, the Portland Trail Blazers beat the Knicks 105-100, with Frenchman Nicolas Batum burying six triples en route to 26 points, Damian Lillard added 21 and the visiting Trail Blazers withstood a 45-point effort by Carmelo Anthony for their eighth win in 10 games.

The visiting Philadelphia 76ers downed the Los Angeles Lakers 103-99, Jrue Holiday racking up 26 points with 10 assists and a game-sealing dunk with 22.4 seconds left. Evan Turner added 22 points with 13 rebounds. Kobe Bryant poured in 36 points while Steve Nash contributed 12 with 10 assists for the Lakers, who had won six of their past seven.

Atlanta Hawks scored a 95-86 away win over New Orleans Hornets. Josh Smith had 23 points with 13 rebounds, Al Horford scored 20 and the Hawks soared past the Hornets for their fifth win in six games.

Elsewhere, the Dallas Mavericks defeated Washington Wizards 103-94 and the Detroit Pistons were 103-97 winners over the Sacramento Kings.††

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