Trying to Pick it up

Trying to secure a playoff spot in the highly competitive Western Conference, the Denver Nuggets need to pick up wins against struggling teams.

The Nuggets overpowered a lesser opponent their last time out, and they'll try and do it again Friday night against the lowly Los Angeles Clippers before embarking on a difficult stretch of games against conference powers.

Oddsmakers from SBG Global have made Denver -13.5 point spread favorites (NBA Odds) for today’s game, the over/under has been set at 209.5 total points (Matchup). Our public betting information shows that 75% of bets for this game have been placed on Denver -13.5 (View NBA Bet Percentages).

Denver (34-23) was atop the Northwest Division on Jan. 25 at 26-16, but has gone just 8-7 since then to fall 2 1/2 games behind first-place Utah. Despite being so close to first in their division, the Nuggets are ninth in the West, one-half game back of Golden State for the final playoff spot.

"It's crazy,'' the Nuggets' Allen Iverson said. "We've got to concentrate on us and not on anybody else.''

A win over the Clippers (19-35) would certainly be advantageous for Denver, which begins a tough, nine-day stretch on Sunday with games against Houston, Phoenix, Utah and San Antonio twice.

The Nuggets had no trouble against woeful Seattle on Wednesday, snapping a three-game losing streak with an easy 138-96 victory. Denver scored the most points in the NBA this season and set a franchise record by shooting 67.0 percent.

Iverson scored 31 points on 13-of-18 shooting, while Kenyon Martin made 11-of-14 shots and finished with 23 points.

"They know they are capable of doing this more often and probably need to do it more often,'' Nuggets coach George Karl said.

Denver also had little trouble offensively in its 123-107 home victory over Los Angeles on Nov. 30, shooting 54.1 percent from the floor and 10-of-20 from 3-point range. In their only other meeting this season on Nov. 21, the Clippers won 101-90 in Los Angeles.

Iverson has scored 55 points in two games versus the Clippers this season, and is averaging 29.9 in his last seven games against them.

Carmelo Anthony scored 24 points in each of his first two games against Los Angeles, and is averaging 29.3 on 50.0 percent shooting in his last four home games against the Clippers.

The Nuggets, who are 22-7 at the Pepsi Center this season, have won four of their last five there over Los Angeles. The Clippers, meanwhile, have lost 11 of their last 14 on the road.

Los Angeles parted ways with oft-injured guard Sam Cassell on Thursday, after he missed his fourth straight game with a sprained right wrist. He averaged 12.8 points and 4.7 assists in 38 games.

"After weighing all of the options and after conversations with Sam we believe this is the best solution for this team,'' Clippers general manager Elgin Baylor said in a statement.

On Wednesday, Los Angeles lost to Portland 82-80 after shooting a season-low 31.3 percent from the field. The Clippers rallied from a 14-point second-half deficit, but Corey Maggette missed a potential go-ahead basket with eight seconds remaining.

"We have to put together a consistent game from the first quarter to the fourth quarter," the Clippers' Quinton Ross said. "We have stretches where we play well and stretches where we play bad. Hopefully we can just put together a full game and get a win."

Maggette, who is averaging a team-high 21.9 points, finished with 32 on Wednesday after scoring only 11 in Monday's 104-76 loss to Boston. In his only game against the Nuggets this season, Maggette scored 26 points in the loss at Denver.

The Clippers have lost three straight since winning back-to-back games for the first time since starting the season 4-0.

By: Marc Young - theSpread.com - Email Us

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