Nuggets 125, Clippers 103
Apr. 14, 1995
LOS ANGELES (AP) _ Reggie Williams made the Denver Nuggets forget about injured leading scorer Mahmoud Abdul-Rauf for one game, anyway.
The Nuggets hardly missed Abdul-Rauf's 16.4 average as Williams scored a season-high 31 points in a 125-103 victory over the Los Angeles Clippers on Thursday night.
Abdul-Rauf sat out of Denver's season-high fifth straight road win after bruising his right leg in the fourth quarter against Minnesota on Monday.
``When Mahmoud went out, I started thinking that I've got to go out there and be one of the main men,'' said Williams, an eight-year pro who was traded after spending his first 2 1/2 seasons with the Clippers.
``Playing here isn't a big deal anymore. I don't mind it at all.''
The Nuggets moved into a tie with idle Sacramento in the race for the eighth and final Western Conference playoff spot. The teams have identical 37-39 records with a week remaining in the regular season.
``We don't even worry about what Sacramento is doing,'' Williams said. ``We've just got to control our own destiny.''
Denver's 17 road wins are three away from bettering the franchise record set during the 1987-88 season when the Nuggets finished 54-28.
Williams and Dikembe Mutombo broke open a close game with a decisive 19-8 spurt at the start of the third quarter as Denver hit its first 11 baskets to put the game out of reach.
Ahead 63-57 at halftime, Williams scored seven points and Mutombo added six to boost Denver's lead to 82-65 with 6:54 remaining. The Nuggets outscored Los Angeles 37-24 in the period to lead 100-81 heading into the final quarter.
``We know the Clippers are going to play hard no matter what,'' Williams said. ``We wanted to get that good lead.''
Williams, who fell four short of matching his career high, has scored 20 points or more in six of his last 10 games. Brian Williams, who is no relation, added 23 points and Mutombo had 16. Bryant Stith, who replaced Abdul-Rauf, had 13 points.
Denver coach Bernie Bickerstaff took Reggie Williams out for a 2 1/2-minute stretch midway through the final quarter.
Williams joked, ``He put me on the bench when I was hot. I've got to talk to him about that.''
The Clippers, coming off a 32-point loss to Sacramento on Tuesday, have lost 11 of 13. They lost the season series to Denver for the second straight year, dropping all four meetings.
Terry Dehere led Los Angeles with 25 points.
The Clippers had no answer for Reggie Williams early in the second half. He scored inside and outside, making four of his five 3-point attempts.
``We never got it going again after we lost the lead in the third quarter,'' Clippers coach Bill Fitch said. ``We have a rough time against teams going into the playoffs. We have done pretty well against some, but maybe tonight we just didn't have it together.''
Los Angeles got no closer than 12 points on a jumper by Gary Grant with 3:30 remaining in the game.
The game was a one-point battle for a four-minute stretch of the second quarter. A 3-pointer by Dehere gave the Clippers their first lead since the start of the game, 38-37. He converted two free throws and Grant made consecutive layins to complete a 19-8 run that represented their largest lead, 44-41, with 4:42 remaining.
Then Reggie Williams and Brian Williams took over, combining for Denver's final 22 points of the first half for a 63-57 lead. Brian Williams scored 14 and Reggie Williams added eight.
Grant did his best to answer for the Clippers with 11 points over the final 5:05 of the second.
The Nuggets briefly threatened to run away in the first quarter when a 13-3 spurt, including eight by Reggie Williams, gave them a 23-14 lead.