From Comcast SportsNetDENVER (AP) -- During an undefeated five-week run by the Los Angeles Clippers, the Denver Nuggets were just another team they beat along the way. The second time around, the Nuggets were the team that ground the Clippers' streak to a halt.Danilo Gallinari led six Nuggets players in double figures with 17 points and Denver stopped the Clippers' franchise- record winning streak at 17 games with a 92-78 victory Tuesday night.The Clippers' streak was the longest in the NBA since the Boston Celtics won 19 in a row from Nov. 15-Dec. 23, 2008."We were all a step slower today," said Blake Griffin, who had 12 points for the Clippers. "We've got to be better than that. We're not going to sit and cry on the plane and get beat down. We're not going to cause ourselves to lose our confidence, despite what people want us to do. That's the best thing about the NBA -- you've got another game."Griffin went 4 of 11 from the field -- the first time he's shot below 50 percent in 18 games.Andre Iguodala said the victory against the NBA's hottest team could help Denver build "our confidence, our swagger."The Clippers have been playing with that the last 18 games. That builds into them winning. They have the mentality every night they're going to go out there and win. We've got to build the same thing and try to string along the same type of win streak."The loss was the first for the Clippers since a 105-98 setback against New Orleans on Nov. 26. It also marked the end of a franchise-record seven-game winning streak on the road.Kenneth Faried added 14 points and 11 rebounds for the Nuggets, who won their eighth in a row at home.The Clippers, whose point total was two above their season-low, were hurt by poor shooting from 3-point range (5 of 29, 17.2 percent) and the free throw line (13 of 29, 44.8 percent).Eric Bledsoe also had 12 points, DeAndre Jordan had 11 and Chris Paul 10 for the Clippers."Maybe two or three of the 3's that we missed, they had a hand in our face," Paul said. "But we got all the shots that we wanted. There are going to be nights like that. It just hasn't happened for a while."Andre Miller, starting in place of point guard Ty Lawson, had 12 points and 12 assists for the Nuggets. Lawson, the team said, has been bothered by tightness in his left Achilles' tendon for the past week, forcing him to miss a game for the first time this season."We don't win this game without Andre," Nuggets coach George Karl said. "He just got us easy baskets, got a lot of guys involved, gave our team a lot of confidence."Miller said, "It was a good win against a good team. We beat them every quarter. It was a weird game, kind of slow. Both teams want to get up and down the court. It was one of those nights were we fell into some easy baskets. We controlled our turnovers and had the energy on our side."Iguodala also helped out at point guard and chipped in with 12 points and eight assists for Denver, which lost to the Clippers in Los Angeles, 112-100 on Christmas Day.After Bledsoe hit a 3-pointer to pull the Clippers to 65-58 with 1:54 left in the third quarter, the Nuggets scored eight of the next nine points, including JaVale McGee's first career 3-pointer at the buzzer to take a 75-59 lead into the fourth quarter. McGee, who had a dunk off an alley-oop pass from Andre Miller on Denver's previous possession, hadn't even tried a 3-pointer in a game all season until then. He blew on his shooting hand after making the trey as if he had to cool it off.The Clippers cut it to 87-73 with 4:02 remaining when Griffin made one of two free throws but the Nuggets, as they did throughout the game, had an answer with Iguodala getting loose in the paint for a slam. The Clippers didn't threaten the rest of the way.The Nuggets took a 12-point lead with 3:01 left in the second quarter when Faried buried a short hook shot before settling for a 48-43 halftime advantage.Los Angeles closed the period with a 9-2 run, starting with Paul converting a three-point play followed by a dunk from DeAndre Jordon off a lob pass from Paul.NOTES:Clippers PG Chauncey Billups, a former Nugget and native of Denver, missed the game as he continues to recover from a foot injury that has kept him on the sideline this season. ... The Clippers began a stretch of four games in five days that resumes Wednesday in Oakland against the Golden State Warriors. ... The Nuggets improved to 5-1 on New Year's Day. ... Miller had a double double for the 204th time in his career and the first time this season. ... The Clippers' 17-game streak was the second-longest ever snapped by the Nuggets. The Chicago Bulls were on an 18-game run when the Nuggets beat them on Feb. 4, 1996.
Notre Dame on Thursday announced the formal hiring of two new assistant coaches, one of which featured a somewhat surprising postscript.
The program's new wide receivers coach will be DelVaughn Alexander, who joins the Irish from Arizona State. Alexander coached tight ends for the Sun Devils in 2016 and spent 2012-2015 as ASU's wide receivers coach and passing game coordinator.
Prior to his stint in Tempe, Washington was Wisconsin's receivers coach from 2007-2011 and also spent time at UNLV, Oregon State and San Diego State.
"I’m excited to officially get on board, hit the road recruiting, and to find and develop the best student-athletes in the country,” Alexander said. “Notre Dame is a special place, and I’ve been able to the see the power of its brand on the recruiting trails across the country for the last 15-20 years. I’m honored and humbled to serve this University, this program and these remarkable young men.”
“I was looking for an experienced teacher, mentor, recruiter and developer of student-athletes,” coach Brian Kelly said “Del not only met the criteria, but he exceeded it. He also understands, respects and values the type of young men we want to bring to this University and football program.”
In addition to Washington, Notre Dame announced the hiring of Matt Balis as strength and conditioning coach, with Balis replacing longtime Brian Kelly lieutenant Paul Longo in that position. Longo has "taken a leave of absence" from the Irish, according to the program's press release.
Balis has served in strength coach roles at Houston (2001-2002), Utah (2004), (Florida 2005-2006), Virginia (2007-2008), Mississippi State (2009-2013) and UConn (2014-2016). At UConn, Balis worked under former Notre Dame defensive coordinator Bob Diaco; while at Utah and Florida, Balis worked with current Ohio State coach Urban Meyer.
Whatever changes Balis brings to Notre Dame strength and conditioning will be necessary, as the Irish frequently ran out of gas late in games in 2016. By S&P+, Notre Dame had the second-best first quarter offense in college football last year, but ranked 90th in the fourth quarter. Similarly, Notre Dame's defense had its lowest ranking (61st) in the fourth quarter.
Granted, some of those struggles were due to poor playcalling and gameplanning, but far too often did Notre Dame's players hit a metaphorical brick wall in the final 15 minutes. Perhaps an infusion of new energy into the weight room will help reverse that trend.
"It's an honor and dream come true to be part of the Notre Dame football program," Balis said. "I'm humbled by this opportunity and I'll work hard everyday to give our players and program my absolute best."
"Matt comes to Notre Dame with impeccable credentials and incredibly high praise from the likes of Urban Meyer, Mickey Marotti, Dan Mullen, Bob Diaco and Al Groh," Kelly said. "He's already instituted a strength program built with a foundation that focuses on hard work, discipline and top-notch competition. Matt will demand the best from our players, not only in the weight room, but in many other areas within our program. I couldn't be more excited to have him in place moving forward."
Since 1991, only eight safeties have been among the first 10 players selected in the NFL Draft. Of those, only three have been top five picks.
With the Bears having across-the-board needs, grabbing a safety with the No. 3 pick in three months may seem like a stretch. But ESPN's Mel Kiper Jr. has the Jacksonville Jaguars nabbing LSU safety Jamal Adams with the fourth overall pick, and mentioned on Thursday that the Bears could be in the mix for him as well. If Ryan Pace & Co. are looking for the best available player, Adams could wind up being that guy.
Adams' versatility, notably, would answer a question Pace will have to pose when looking at a safety: Would he prefer a safety who can be a rangy cover guy, or does he want a physical, downhill player who can line up closer to the box?
"He can do anything you want," Kiper said. "He can cover on the back end as a center fielder, he can come up in the box, he tackles well, he works hard. He's going to be a premier player."
The 6-foot-1, 213 pound Adams totaled 76 tackles his junior year at LSU, with 7 1/2 tackles for a loss, one interception, one sack, one forced fumble and four pass break-ups. Kiper has him ranked sixth on his big board, though with the same grade as the third-best player on it. Scouts Inc rates Adams as the fourth-best player in the 2017 draft class.
As things stand in January, Kiper has the Bears selecting Alabama defensive lineman Jonathan Allen at No. 3. A defensive lineman would be a far more conventional pick at No. 3, where a franchise-altering talent can be plucked (the San Diego/Los Angeles Chargers took defensive end Joey Bosa there in 2016).
The last safety taken in the top five was Eric Berry, who the Kansas City Chiefs took fifth overall in 2010. Since 1991, only one safety has gone higher than that — Eric Turner, who was the No. 2 pick in the 1991 draft by the Cleveland Browns. The success rate of top 10 safeties in the last 25 years is high, too.
Turner led the NFL in interceptions with nine in 1994 and made two Pro Bowls, though his career was tragically cut short when he died of stomach cancer in 2000. Berry is widely regarded as one of the best safeties in the NFL and is a five-time Pro Bowler and three-time first-team All Pro.
Roy Williams (2002 No. 8, Dallas) was a five-time Pro Bowler for the Cowboys; Sean Taylor (2004 No. 5, Washington) was a two-time Pro Bowler who died far too young at the age of 24 in 2007; Donte Whitner (2006 No. 8, Buffalo) made three Pro Bowls, though none with the Bills; and LaRon Landry (2007 No. 6, Washington) reached the 2012 Pro Bowl but was suspended indefinitely by the NFL in 2015 for a third violation of the league's performance-enhancing drug testing.
Stanley Richard (1991 No. 9, San Diego) and Michael Huff (2006 No. 7, Oakland) are the only players among those eight top-10 safeties who didn't go on to reach a Pro Bowl.
Those eight players, though, only represent 3 percent of top 10 picks since 1991. Conversely, 20 percent of the top 10 picks in the last 25 years have been defensive linemen.
Or, to put it another way, only 2 percent of top five picks since 1991 have been safeties. That would signal that, most years, taking a safety at a pick as high as the Bears have is a reach.
Still, Kiper doesn't necessarily see Adams like that at No. 3. But given the recent history of success with highly-picked safeties, perhaps the Bears will wind up considering him with such an critical selection.
"Chicago certainly could use a player with his capabilities," Kiper said. "He's going to go very high. … Anywhere in the top five, he could go."