DENVER -- The Clippers played the correct defense right up to the end, switching to force the Nuggets to break off the play, putting Denver in what looked like a panic situation.
But as anxious as the Nuggets seemed to be in the final few precious seconds of the game, they found a way to get past their trepidation when Randy Foye drilled a 30-foot three-pointer over the outstretched hands of Blake Griffin as time expired to push Denver past Los Angeles, 116-115.
All the Clippers could do was stare in dismay, wondering how the game got away after Matt Barnes had made a three-pointer with 6.2 seconds left for a 115-113 Clippers lead.
After the game, Griffin and Barnes looked at the play again on a computer, both shaking their heads at the outcome.
BOX SCORE: Denver Nuggets 116, Clippers 115
"We blew the play up," said Griffin, who had 36 points, 11 rebounds and had made one of two free throws with 1 minute 10 seconds left for a 112-111 Clippers lead.
"I switched out. Contested. I didn't want to get too close. I obviously didn't want to foul a guy that's shooting a fade-away from that far away. I guess it's on me. I've got to get to that shot a little better."
Considering Foye shot some five feet behind the three-point line and made a difficult basket, Griffin was asked why he was taking the blame.
"That's what Doc said when we came into the huddle," Griffin said, referring to Coach Doc Rivers. "I've got to be better in that situation, I guess."
The final play started when forward Kenneth Faried, who had a career-high 28 points and 11 rebounds, passed the ball to center JJ Hickson, who had 17 points and 12 rebounds.
Hickson seemed to freeze when he got the basketball, unsure of what to do as the clock wound down.
Foye, sensing things were going awry, ran toward Hickson at the top of the key.
Griffin, who was guarding Hickson, switched off to Foye after Jamal Crawford was screened by Hickson.
Foye then launched a leaning three-pointer that settled into the net as time expired.
"I couldn't hit one all night," said Foye, who had 14 points on four-for-11 shooting, two for seven on three-pointers. "But I hit the one that counted."
The Clippers were unhappy that they gave up 17 offensive rebounds — four off missed Nuggets free throws — that led to 24 second-chance points.
The Clippers were unhappy to be outrebounded, 52-37.
But in the end, it was Foye's shot that really made the Clippers miserable.
"In the live action, you don't know whether he's going to keep coming off that handoff, drop behind it, fake the handoff," Griffin said. "I thought we played it well. He hit 28-foot fade-away shot at the buzzer to beat us. So you've got to give him credit."