Basketball / Sports

Last-minute 3-pointer puts Nuggets over Clippers, 116-115

DENVER -- The temptation after seeing the Los Angeles Clippers lose, 116-115, at the buzzer in Denver would be to focus solely on Randy Foye's winning jumper.

The former Clipper guard salvaged a broken play, and moving against his body, managed to get the ball up towards the basket over Blake Griffin's outstretched arm. And after it swished through the net, Foye, sprawled out on the court with his hands in the air, got mobbed by his teammates.

"He hit a tough shot," Matt Barnes said. "We did everything we're supposed to do defensively and he hit a tough shot."

But the final points in the game aren't why Denver pulled out a victory Monday at the Pepsi Center.

No, plenty of other stuff went wrong for the Clippers well before Foye hit his last-second shot.

"We always focus on the final shot," Clippers coach Doc Rivers said. "But we gave up 8 points in the first half off of (missed) free throws. ... That's where the game gets lost right there."

The Clippers gave up 17 offensive rebounds up to the Nuggets, leading to 24 Denver points. The team also allowed Kenneth Faried and J.J. Hickson to combine for 45 points and 23 rebounds.

And while they shot it well, hitting 50 percent from the field, the Clippers also turned the ball over 11 times, leading to 19 Denver points.

Despite all of that, they led by two after Barnes hit a 3-point shot from the right wing with less than 10 seconds left.

"Fortunately, we were good enough offensively to try to win the game," Rivers said.

Griffin led all scorers with 36 points in the loss.

CLIPPERS SIGN VUJACIC: When Chris Paul first got injured in early January, the Clippers brought in former Laker guard Sasha Vujacic for a workout.

And while the team eventually went with Darius Morris, the team remembered Vujacic's number, signing him to a 10-day contract Monday.

Vujacic last played in the NBA during the 2010-11 season. He spent the past two years playing professionally in Turkey.

"I'm really grateful to be here, to be in a position to play for a championship-caliber coach," Vujacic said. "I can't describe how happy I am to be given this opportunity to continue this journey."

Denver coach Brian Shaw joked that the Clippers would need to install a few more mirrors in the locker room with Vujacic in the fold. Shaw coached Vujacic when he played for the Lakers.

"He can shoot the ball very well from the outside. He has a pretty good feel for the game in terms of plays that need to be made out there on the floor and he's going to give you the effort defensively," Shaw said. "On our teams in L.A., we got him as a very young player and saw him improve over the years that we had him there. He played a very important part of the championships that he was a part of."

Rivers said the roster move isn't a part of any master plan.

"We're just adding another player. There was no deep thinking to it," Rivers said. "He's another shooter, and we want to see what he's got. He could help us. You never know."

Rivers said Vujacic could play point guard, shooting guard or small forward for the Clippers.

Vujacic was active Monday, but he didn't play.

Rivers and his staff have continued to try and add shooting, with almost every move the team has made since the offseason geared towards hitting the deep ball.

"You have to have spacing, especially down the stretch," Rivers said. "That allows your other players to be great. I'm always looking at shooting."

NOTES: Chris Paul is expected to be cleared by the end of this week, Rivers said pregame Monday. Paul hasn't played since separating his right shoulder on Jan. 3 at Dallas. Paul has missed the Clippers' past 16 games. The Clippers host Miami on Wednesday, Toronto on Friday and Philadelphia on Sunday. ... Before the game, Shaw praised DeAndre Jordan's improvement this season, revealing that he voted for Jordan to make the All-Star team as a reserve. ... The Clippers and Nuggets shot 78 free throws after being whistled for 50 combined fouls and two technicals.

(c)2014 The Orange County Register (Santa Ana, Calif.)

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