By Broderick Turner Los Angeles Times
DENVER — It is over.
On the first day of 2013, the Los Angeles Clippers watched their 17-game winning streak get snapped by the Denver Nuggets, a 92-78 defeat during which L.A. shot a season low from the field.
The Clippers had last lost a game Nov. 26. The winning streak began Nov. 28 and it grew into a 16-0 month in December.
But it is over now, the Clippers unable to make enough shots to make it a game in the second half. They shot just 38.5 percent from the field, 17.2 percent (five for 29) from three-point range.
“Congratulations on what? No,” Chris Paul responded when told that Clippers Coach Vinny Del Negro had congratulated his team on the winning streak.
“What did we accomplish? I think for us, we’re just upset that we lost. We could care less about the streak.”
With 3 minutes 10 seconds left in the game and Blake Griffin at the free-throw line shooting two free throws, Del Negro began to take his starters and key reserves out of the game.
The Clippers were down by 15 points at that point and had to look forward to playing Wednesday night at the Golden State Warriors, who didn’t play Tuesday night.
Paul was the first starter to depart, leaving with 10 points on four-for-nine shooting and six assists.
Jamal Crawford, the super-sub, left with Paul, Crawford taking his nine points and his horrible shooting night to the bench.
Crawford missed nine of his 11 shots and all five of his three-pointers.
With 2:37 left and the Clippers down by that same 15 points, Griffin and Caron Butler were the last two starters taken out of the game.
Griffin had 12 points on four-for-11 shooting and Butler had seven on three-for-nine shooting.
“We’re not going to sit and cry on the plane and get down or let this hurt our confidence in spite of what people want us to do,” Griffin said. “You’re only as good as your last game. So, right now people want us to be down on ourselves. We’ve got to pop back up because we’ve got another game.”
JaVale McGee hadn’t taken a three-pointer all season, but when the Nuggets center lined up a three just before the third quarter was about to end, McGee shot it with confidence.
His three-pointer settled into the nets as the buzzer sounded, putting the Clippers in a 75-59 hole at the end of the third they never could recover from.
McGee said it was the first three-pointer he had made in his four-year career.
That in itself had to be a sign that the Clippers would not be able to continue their streak.
“I think we’re in good shape because we never got too high during the streak. It still was a one-at-a-time type of thing,” Crawford said. “We knew at some point we were going to lose. We weren’t going to go undefeated the rest of the season. You see we’re still playing music. We’re not too high. We’re not too low.”