Improved Clippers aim for another win over Nuggets

The Los Angeles Clippers seem to grow more imposing by the day and will aim get the best of Denver for the second time in less than a week when the two teams square off at Staples Center.

The Pacific Division-leading Clips invaded the Rockies last Sunday and escaped with a 109-105 win behind ex-Nugget Chauncey Billups' 32 points. Since then LA has disposed of the Western Conference's top team, the Oklahoma City Thunder, and earned a very rare win in Utah on Wednesday night.

It wasn't easy, but the Clips picked up their first triumph in Salt Lake City since 2003 and only their second in the last 44 trips to the Beehive State. Los Angeles had lost 15 straight against the Jazz overall in Utah, but got a season- high 34 points and 11 assists from All-Star point guard Chris Paul in a game which featured 12 ties and 14 lead changes

Blake Griffin added 31 points and 14 rebounds and executed a key three-point play in the final minute for the Clippers, who have won a season-high four straight overall.

"We really wanted this game," Paul said. "I think we did a great job of showing a lot of patience and fighting through."

On the injury front for LA, veteran forward Caron Butler was a late scratch on Wednesday with a sore lower back and remains questionable for tonight.

The Nuggets, meanwhile, followed up their setback to the Clips over the weekend with another heartbreaker in Memphis on Tuesday.

After a pair of missed shots and two offensive rebounds, O.J. Mayo rose up from the top of the arc and nailed the go-ahead three-pointer with 35.1 seconds remaining in overtime, helping the Grizzlies snap a four-game losing streak with a thrilling 100-97 win over Denver.

Al Harrington netted 23 points to go with 10 rebounds for the Nuggets, who have lost the two in a row since winning six straight. Andre Miller, who is set to play his 1,000th regular season NBA game tonight, had 20 points, six rebounds and six assists for Denver but Danilo Gallinari was just 1-of-10 from the field and finished with eight points.

After Mayo first missed a jumper, Mike Conley came down with the offensive rebound and found himself open for a three-pointer. But he missed and Tony Allen then corralled the second offensive rebound. Conley hit a wide-open Mayo and his three-pointer from the top of the arc went down for a 98-97 Memphis advantage -- the first lead change since the opening quarter.

"In overtime, they outhustled us on many misses with the lead and made a big 3," Nuggets coach George Karl said. "We made them take two or three shots before they got it, but we ran out of gas."

Aaron Afflalo turned the ball over on Denver's ensuing possession and Conley nailed a pair of free throws to seal it.

Despite the loss Karl was happy with the bigger picture.

"We've had a great month of January," the coach told "It might have been the best month I've ever had in Denver in my mind."

Denver, which will be kicking of its second three games in three nights stretch this season, has dropped three straight to the Clips. LA, meanwhile, is a more than solid 10-2 as the home team this season.