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Clippers 102, Nuggets 98

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LOS ANGELES — Guard Jamal Crawford scored all 23 of his points in the second half, and the Los Angeles Clippers captured their fifth straight victory with a 102-98 victory over the Denver Nuggets on Monday night at Staples Center.

Forward Matt Barnes finished with 18 points, point guard Chris Paul had 15 points and eight assists and forward Blake Griffin added 14 points and 10 rebounds for the Clippers (31-14).

Point guard Ty Lawson scored 19 points and handed out 11 assists, while forward Wilson Chandler and guard Arron Afflalo each scored 18 for the Nuggets (18-27), who lost their seventh in a row.

After trailing by 10 early in the final period, the Clippers rallied and tied the score at 92 on a 3-pointer by Crawford with 3:10 left. Crawford followed with another bucket for a 94-92 lead, but Afflalo answered with a jumper to knot the score again at 2:16.

Barnes’ layup gave Los Angeles the lead for good at 96-94 with 1:24 remaining. Three free throws by Crawford increased the advantage to 99-94 with 49 seconds left. Chandler hit a floater to cut the deficit to three with 35 seconds remaining, and got two free throws by backup center Darrell Arthur to pull within one with 6.7 seconds left.

Crawford, though, hit a foul shot with 5.1 seconds left, missed the second, but secured his own rebound. He added two free throws to seal the win.

Denver, which led by as much as 16 in the first half, held a 41-28 advantage after a 3-point basket by guard Randy Foye midway through the second quarter. However, the Clippers launched a 22-6 run to close the half, capped by a reverse alley-oop dunk by center DeAndre Jordan, on a pass from Griffin, and a Griffin slam for a 50-47 lead at intermission.

A basket inside by Barnes gave Los Angeles a 56-51 lead in the opening minutes of the third quarter, but Denver answered with an 11-0 surge for a five-point lead after a free throw by forward Kenneth Faried, who finished with 14 points, with 6:27 left. The Nuggets increased the margin to 77-69 by the end of the third, outscoring the Clippers 30-19 in the quarter.

The Nuggets got rolling in the first quarter behind Chandler’s 13 points. He nailed three of Denver’s first-quarter treys and boosted it to a 31-20 cushion at the end of the period.

NOTES: Los Angeles coach Doc Rivers says he is “softening” and reconsidering his opposition to a ban on intentional fouls. Clippers C DeAndre Jordan has been a frequent target because of his notoriously poor foul shooting. “I’ve been back and forth on it,” Rivers said. “But I get (the strategy of it). Maybe we should change it.” Jordan, a 41 percent shooter at the line before Monday’s game, went 5-for-5 after being intentionally fouled in Sunday’s win over the Phoenix Suns. He converted eight of 15 overall. … The Clippers embark on a nine-game road trip beginning Wednesday at Utah. They won’t play a home game until Feb. 11 when they host the Houston Rockets. … The Nuggets visit the New Orleans Pelicans on Wednesday.

Up to the minute news and reports from the news wire of The Sports Xchange.

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