Clippers in midst of tough stretch with win streak on the line


The Clippers had to work hard to get by a physical, bruising Utah Jazz team on Sunday night to extend their NBA-best winning streak to 17.

But the schedule doesn’t get any easier for the Clippers.

The victory over Utah was the start of five games in seven days for the Clippers, all against quality teams.

The Clippers have to play back-to-back games, starting with the Nuggets (17-15) in Denver on Tuesday and the Golden State Warriors (21-10) on Wednesday in Oakland.

“This is going to be probably the toughest stretch ... that we’ve had,” Blake Griffin said. “So it will be a good test for us.”

The Nuggets are 9-1 at home.

The Clippers have beaten the Nuggets once this season, on Christmas night at Staples Center, another opponent that went down during the winning streak.

“Every game has been tough,” Clippers Coach Vinny Del Negro said. “We’ve just got to find a way. Winning up in Denver is difficult because they play well up there.”

The Clippers’ streak includes 16 wins in the month of December.

“Seventeen in a row is impressive and it’s a tough feat,” Matt Barnes said. “We are playing good basketball and that is a positive note.”

“We’re not going into each game worrying about it,” Griffin said about the winning streak. “We’re just going out and playing our game.”

Injury toll

Del Negro said the Clippers didn’t practice Monday before heading to Denver because he didn’t have enough healthy players.

Lamar Odom already had a sprained left ankle, and Del Negro said Odom is now dealing with a strained ligament in his right foot. Ronny Turiaf has a sore right elbow and center DeAndre Jordan has sore ribs after being injured in the Utah Jazz game Friday night, Del Negro said.

And that doesn’t include Chauncey Billups (tendinitis in left foot), sidelined since Nov. 28, or Grant Hill (bone bruise in right knee), who has yet to play this season.

“We don’t have enough bodies to do anything,” Del Negro said. “So [Monday] is kind of what we call a ‘corrective and maintenance’ day. Guys get their treatment and get up some shots. We’ve got a really difficult week coming up without a lot of bodies.”

Del Negro said Odom was injured in the Utah game Friday.

“He’s just a pro,” Del Negro said. “A lot of guys wouldn’t have played [Sunday], but he gave me what he could. He was pretty sore after the game.”

Billups, Hill updates

Del Negro said that Hill will start doing some “jumping and playing” in scrimmages this week and that Billups is “feeling better.”

“Because we’ve been on this winning streak, I haven’t pushed anything because I want them to just kind of take their time,” Del Negro said. “I don’t want them to come back and be hurt again.”