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NBA West Christmas Preview: Clippers vs. Nuggets and Lakers vs. Knicks

For the NBA, Christmas means a day full of games.

The Los Angeles Clippers (21-6) have had a good holiday season as they grabbed their 13th consecutive win on Sunday against the Phoenix Suns (11-17).

Will Christmas day bring win No. 14 against the Denver Nuggets (15-13)?

Neighbor Los Angeles Lakers (13-14) got off to a rough start but with four straight wins, things are looking brighter. On Tuesday, they’ll play the New York Knicks (20-7).

Clippers vs. Nuggets

Clippers Blake Griffin

In win No. 13 vs. the Suns, the Clippers made winning look easy.

Blake Griffin scored 23 points (8 for 12 shooting, 11 rebounds, four steals); Chris Paul added 17 points with 13 assists and Jamal Crawford came off the bench for 22 points. Along with this win, the Clippers advanced their team record and beat Phoenix for the first time in over five years.

The team’s win streak is a league season high and its six consecutive road wins represent a franchise best.

One contributor to their wins has been Griffin. Over his last 11 games, he has been averaging 20.7 points and shooting 59.4 percent from the field.

Paul has been another one, elevating his team to play at a higher level and winning the Western Conference Player of the Week on Monday.

Factor in the team’s bench depth with Crawford, Matt Barnes and Eric Bledsoe and this a hard team to beat.

Against Denver, they will face a team who has won their last four of five games.

Denver forward Danilo Gallinari leads the team in scoring with his 15.6 points per game. In his game against Charlotte on Saturday, he got 12 points in 22 minutes. His teammates, Kosta Koufos, Kenneth Faried, Andre Iguodala and JaVale McGee shot a combined 60 points and went 27 for 37 from the floor.

The Nuggets are the NBA’s leader for points in the paint per game at 55.6 and from their last two games, sit at the top of the league with its two greatest single-game totals for the season to date at 74 and 78.

In their last four games, they’ve averaged 109.3 points overall but need some improvement in the three-point range at 26.6 percent.

History is against the Nuggets for Christmas Day road games (0-3) and it will continue (Clippers -7 with 201 o/u).

Lakers vs. New York

Lakers Kobe Bryant

In a Christmas first, this matchup has the league’s two leading scorers playing against one another: Lakers Kobe Bryant (29.7) vs. Knicks Carmelo Anthony (28.3).

Over his last eight games, Bryant is averaging 33.8 points per game with 34 coming in last Saturday’s Golden State game.

For the team’s first meeting, the Knicks won 116-107 even with Bryant’s strong effort: 31 points, 10 rebounds with six assists. Dwight Howard and Metta World Peace had a combined 43 points but they fell short.

This time they’ll have Steve Nash and Pau Gasol on the floor.

Nash added 12 points and nine assists after a two-month absence in the Golden State game.

He said of his return via ESPN, “It’s great to be back playing with these guys, it was very painful to sit out. I’m happy I can contribute. We’re just trying to build a team and build some spirit, where we go out there we know we got a chance to win and we compete for it and try to earn it every night.”

As for the Knicks, Anthony had 33 points (19 points coming in the final quarter) against the Minnesota Timberwolves on Sunday. He also has a career-high 43.7 percent from behind the arc and averages a minimum of 28 points from this spot.

The team will have center Marcus Camby back, who’s missed the last 12 games from plantar fascia. He’ll be paired up against Dwight Howard but Amar’e Stoudemire will not return.

For the Knicks, they’re 1-6 when playing on the road Christmas day and this year it could extend to 1-7 (Lakers -4, 212.5 o/u).



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