LOS ANGELES — Los Angeles Clippers center DeAndre Jordan wanted to send a message.
“They dominated us in the paint the last time we played,” Jordan said of the Denver Nuggets. “That was a big emphasis for us, to protect our paint and try to limit those guys to one shot and try to keep their second-chance points low. It starts with the bigs, but it was a total team effort. Today, we did a lot better.”
Jordan had 16 points, 16 rebounds and six blocks in three quarters, and the Clippers used a solid second half to beat the Nuggets 105-90 Sunday at Staples Center.
Jordan, who leads the NBA in field-goal percentage, connected on seven of 10 shots from the floor as the Clippers (45-27) clinched a playoff berth for the fifth consecutive season.
Chris Paul scored 14 points, dished out nine assists and grabbed six rebounds for Los Angeles, which had six players score in double figures. Jamal Crawford added 14 points, Jeff Green and Wesley Johnson chipped in 13 points each, and J.J. Redick had 12 points.
“We started getting stops in the second half,” said Paul, who made just four of 11 shots. “When D.J. Augustin came back in, we started blitzing, trying to get the ball out of his hands. He sort of controlled the game in the first half. He did a little bit of everything.
“So, in the second half, we tried to take him out of the game. I think that helped us.”
Jusuf Nurkic led the Nuggets (31-43) with 19 points. Augustin had 16 of his 18 points in the first half before Paul and the Clippers began to clamp down on his production after intermission. Augustin also had 10 assists. Will Barton finished with 13 points for Denver. Gary Harris scored 11.
The Clippers opened the third quarter with a 13-4 run to stretch their four-point halftime lead to 67-54 after a jumper by Johnson with 5:50 left in the quarter. The Clippers took a 77-60 advantage into the final quarter. The Nuggets never threatened again.
“The third quarter killed us,” Denver coach Mike Malone said. “They got out to a great start, (we) weathered the storm, came back, played really well and made it a game. Then, to get outscored 25-12 in the third quarter, I think we had five turnovers, and if we did not turn it over DeAndre blocked our shot it felt like. We just could not score.”
Jordan had eight of his points in the period, making all four of his field goal attempts. Jordan also blocked four shots in the third.
“(Jordan) brings the same type of play every day,” said Harris, who had three of the Nuggets’ seven 3-pointers. “He is very aggressive. He can score and once he is being really aggressive and you take his shot away, he creates for others. He does it all.”
Clippers coach Doc Rivers was more pleased with his center’s defensive play.
“If you drive enough and D.J. starts blocking, you are going to think about it,” Rivers said. “I was more impressed that he blocked two of his own man’s shots. That is hard to do. When you are blocking the weak side, we need him to do that every night.”
Denver trailed by as much as 14 in the first half before cutting the deficit to 52-48 at the half. The Nuggets got a lift Augustin, who came off the bench and hit five of eight shots from the floor, making three of four 3-pointers. However, the Nuggets managed to shoot only 39.1 percent to 43.5 percent for the Clippers in the first half.
Overall, the Clippers shot 47.5 percent to 39.4 for the Nuggets. They also converted 10 of 28 (35.7 percent) 3-pointers to seven of 29 for Denver.
Los Angeles also held the edge in fast-break points 25-8. The Clippers had a small advantage on points in the paint, 48-46
NOTES: Clippers coach Doc Rivers doesn’t anticipate anything to prevent the return of injured F Blake Griffin (partially torn left quad tendon/right hand fracture) on April 3, when the Clippers host the Washington Wizards. Griffin, who began a four-game suspension Sunday for punching a team equipment manager, practiced Saturday. … With the exception of conditioning being an issue, Rivers was pleased with Griffin’s progress. Griffin hasn’t played since the Clippers defeated the Los Angeles Lakers on Christmas Day. “The way he looked, I can’t imagine any setbacks because it’s going to be basically non-contact (workouts) except basically the day before the game,” Rivers said. … Both clubs resume play Monday at their home arenas. Denver faces the Dallas Mavericks, while Los Angeles meets the Boston Celtics.