DENVER (AP) – With the clock ticking down and the game-ending play on the verge of imploding, Randy Foye rose above the chaos to win it for the Nuggets at the buzzer.
Foye connected a 3-pointer from well beyond the top of the key, and Denver overcame a 36-point performance by Blake Griffin to beat the Los Angeles Clippers 116-115 on Monday night.
“They were trying to go quick; we blew the play up,” Clippers coach Doc Rivers said. “Give Foye credit. He didn’t stop. He just came and got the ball and made a shot.”
Matt Barnes had given the Clippers a 115-113 lead on a 3-pointer with 6.2 seconds left. After a timeout, the Nuggets inbounded the ball and J.J. Hickson first tried to get the ball to Wilson Chandler, who was cutting underneath the basket.
But with the Clippers clogging the lane, he instead dished the ball to Foye, who drove from the wing to the middle of the floor, got a step on Griffin, pulled up and heaved a shot from 30-feet away. Swish.
“Man, it’s just pandemonium,” said Foye, who fell to the floor and was swarmed by teammates. “It’s just, `Whew.’ Chills went through my body. Teammates jumped on me. I think somebody hurt my leg but I didn’t feel it. I didn’t feel anything. I went numb. It’s just an unbelievable feeling.”
Griffin said Foye just made a tough shot.
“I thought we played it well,” Griffin said. “I switched out. I contested. I didn’t want to get too close. Obviously, I didn’t want to foul a guy shooting a 30-footer. It’s on me. I’ve got to be better in that situation I guess.”
It was the first game-winning shot of Foye’s career.
“Randy works hard and when that shot went in, I just had to go hug him, because I was excited for him and excited for our team,” said Kenneth Faried, who finished with a career-high 28 points and 11 rebounds.
“It was nice to finally get a break to go our way,” Nuggets coach Brian Shaw said. “Our guys really, really fought the entire night. Obviously, we overcame a great game from Blake Griffin and Jamal Crawford off the bench.”
DeAndre Jordan had 19 points and 12 rebounds. It was his team record 28th consecutive game with at least 10 rebounds. Crawford added 19 points for the Clippers, who fell to 0-11 on the road when trailing after the third quarter.
No more than five points separated the teams in the third quarter with the Nuggets taking an 82-81 lead into the fourth quarter when Quincy Miller stole the ball from Crawford and swept down the court for a layup, beating the buzzer.
With 3:37 left, Griffin made two free throws to put the Clippers up 107-101 but the Nuggets scored eight straight points, getting six on free throws, and went in front by two. The Clippers answered, regaining the lead on a fast-break dunk by Griffin 111-109.
Two free throws by Lawson re-tied it at 111-all with 1:21 left. Griffin made one of two from the line and Chandler made a pair and the Nuggets led 113-112 with 50.7 seconds remaining. Both the Clippers’ Crawford and the Nuggets’ Lawson missed jumpers before Barnes connected on a go-ahead 3-pointer.
But after a timeout, the Nuggets worked the ball to Foye who hit the 3-pointer falling away for the winner.
Though the Clippers led by as many as 13 points early on, the teams battled to a 60-all tie at the half.
Barnes and Darren Collison finished consecutive fastbreaks with layups to give the Clippers a 55-46 lead with 2:46 left in the second quarter. Chandler answered with a 3-pointer that was offset by a three-point play by Griffin, who then drew a foul, his third, while guarding Foye.
Griffin spent the final couple minutes of the second quarter on the bench, during which the Nuggets closed with an 11-2 burst, including a jumper by Lawson with 29.7 seconds remaining that evened the score at the half.
NOTES: Jordan has played in 209 consecutive games, longest active streak in the NBA. … Faried has 55 career double doubles, including 12 this season. … Jordan has 11 double doubles in his last 15 games. … Griffin has 23 games with at least 20 points and 10 rebounds this season. … The Nuggets have won 12 of the past 14 home games against the Clippers.
By Dennis Georgatos, AP Writer
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