Carmelo calls in sick, Nuggets without remedy for Gang Green

What do you do when you’re facing a team with an identity crisis? Attack from the get-go before they have a chance to find themselves. Minutes before the Nuggets and Celtics tipped off last night, Carmelo Anthony was scratched from the lineup with an acute case of BosGarden Thiboditis (or maybe it was a sore knee). So while Denver tried to adjust to the unexpected absence, Ray Allen and his Hall of Fame teammates went to work. Ray (28 pts), Pierce, KG and Shaq scored Boston’s first 26 points, flirted with a 20-piecing in the first quarter and never trailed … Watch enough Clippers games and you’ll get pretty good at being able to pinpoint exactly when the roof begins caving in. Playing host to the Lakers in the Lakers’ building, that seminal moment appeared to happen early in the third quarter: In one sequence the Clips missed three straight dunks — Al-Farouq Aminu, Eric Bledsoe and DeAndre Jordan were the culprits — while Kobe Bryant methodically turned a two-point deficit into a three-point lead. And cue the misery … But just when you had L.A.’s underdog squad penciled in for another L, they controlled the rest of the quarter on the backs of their future building blocks. With Blake Griffin playing like Adrian Peterson on the hardwood and Eric Gordon slashing and splashing (send the royalty check to the office, Clyde Frazier), the Clips were poised for a grown-up, statement win — and THEN they did the roof-caving-in thing in the final minute of the fourth … Fifty seconds left, the Clips were up three with the ball. Ron Artest poked it away from Gordon, setting up a Kobe floater. Next possession, Gordon (24 pts, 4 stls) threw a bad entry pass to Griffin (16 pts, 11 rebs), which Artest snatched and set up a Kobe go-ahead jumper. The Clips still didn’t die easy — Gordon dished to Jordan for a go-ahead dunk with 15 seconds left — but they did go painfully. With three seconds left on the clock, Derek Fisher took the inbounds and, with Gordon denying Kobe (24 pts) the ball, Fisher found his first step from 1998 and got to the rim for a banker at the buzzer. Brutal loss for the Clips, ho-hum for the Lake Show …

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