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LOS ANGELES (AP) — The Los Angeles Clippers didn't miss a beat in their first game without Blake Griffin.
J.J. Redick scored 27 points, including 7-for-9 shooting on 3-pointers, Chris Paul had 16 points, 15 assists and eight rebounds, and the Clippers defeated the Denver Nuggets 119-102 Tuesday night..
Los Angeles was playing for the first time since losing leading-scorer Griffin up to six weeks after knee surgery. Last season, Griffin missed 41 games with an injury.
The Clippers stretched their lead to 29 points in the third quarter and then sat their starters the entire fourth quarter.
"They clearly know they have a much smaller margin for error without Blake," Clippers coach Doc Rivers said. "Without him, this group knows we have to play very well to win games, and very hard, and I think you can see that."
DeAndre Jordan had 13 points and 13 rebounds, and Luc Mbah a Moute added 14 points for the Clippers, who won for the fifth time in six games.
The Clippers got a solid defensive effort for most of the night, holding the Nuggets to 39.4 percent shooting through the opening three quarters.
"They came out and played with great energy and a great sense of urgency and we were just a step slow most of the night," Nuggets coach Michael Malone said. "We struggled to score. We couldn't make a shot."
Will Barton led the Nuggets with 22 points off the bench, with Danilo Gallinari adding 17 points. Denver snapped a three-game win streak.
The Clippers shot 44 percent on 3s (16 for 36), and hit 56 percent (38 of 68) overall.
"Especially with that first group having played so many games without Blake last year, there is some familiarity with that group," Redick said.
The Clippers jumped out to 16-point lead in the first quarter, but the Nuggets rallied to pull within to 46-44. The Clippers closed the half with a 23-9 run. The Nuggets trailed by double-digits the rest of the game and were down by 23 after the third quarter.
"J.J. Redick was the story of the game," Malone said. "We had no answers for him. They did a great job of getting him open and finding him."
Nuggets: PG Emmanuel Mudiay struggled in his matchup against Paul. He missed all nine of his shots to finish scoreless, with five rebounds and one assist. ... Fellow starting guard Gary Harris was 1 for 6 for three points, meaning the Clippers starting backcourt outscored the Nuggets' 43-3.
Clippers: Paul Pierce, 39, started in place of Griffin but played just 19 minutes. It was only his eighth game of the year and second start. He hit two of six field goals to finish with seven pints and one rebound.
The Clippers called Griffin's right knee surgery to remove loose bodies a success and said he would be out between four-to-six weeks. The surgery was performed Tuesday by Dr. Neal ElAttrache.
If Griffin is out the full six weeks he would miss 20 games.
IS PAUL UP?
Rivers said his lineup replacement for Griffin will depend upon the opponent, but there seems little doubt that long term Paul will have to pick up some of the missed scoring.
"The great players are a nice blanket for guys, but when you take that blanket away, now you have to play," Rivers said.
Nuggets: Host Atlanta on Friday night.
Clippers: Host San Antonio on Thursday night.
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