They weren't expecting center Timofey Mozgov to straddle the arc
for the Denver Nuggets.
Mozgov's strong night nearly became legendary when he launched a
game-tying 3-point attempt with 4.9 seconds left. The 7-foot-1
Russian made his first NBA 3-pointer last week, but this time he
couldn't connect, and the Grizzlies escaped with a 94-92 win.
Forward Zach Randolph scored 20 points and grabbed 11 rebounds, and
guard Mike Conley added 19 points, including a key 3-pointer in the
final minute for the Grizzlies, who kept pace in a tight playoff
Memphis guard Courtney Lee also contributed 19 points.
"We've got to keep playing. Each game is an important game for us,
so we've got to come out with a sense of urgency," Randolph said. "A
lot of teams is just freestyling, ain't going postseason so they
don't care so they're playing freely. We're playing for something,
so we've got to come out from the beginning."
After reaching the Western Conference Finals last year, the
Grizzlies (44-30) are just trying to make the playoffs this year.
They pulled even with the Dallas Mavericks and Phoenix Suns in a tie
for seventh in the West with eight games remaining for each.
Denver, conversely, is just trying to finish strong in a lost
season. After suffering a 31-point home loss to the San Antonio
Spurs on Friday, the Nuggets (32-42) looked to bounce back against
the Grizzlies. They almost did, but Memphis held on after Mozgov's
"We know that I can make 3s," Mozgov said. "We tried. I just missed
it. It wasn't good."
Mozgov, who tied a career high with 23 points, hit a free throw to
cut the Nuggets' deficit to 88-86 with 1:35 left. The teams traded
buckets before Conley banked in a 3-pointer to make it 93-88 with 36
"Mike Conley hit a big shot," Memphis coach David Joerger said. "I
thought we did a good job of executing in getting the shots we
wanted down the stretch."
After Nuggets guard Randy Foye made a layup, Randolph missed two
free throws with 8.2 seconds remaining. Denver got the rebound,
called a timeout and set up a play for the Mozgov at the 3-point
arc. He missed but then dunked the rebound.
"What surprised me is he didn't kick it back out when he got the
dunk," Randolph said.
Lee was fouled with 0.7 seconds left. He hit the first free throw
and missed the second on purpose to end the game.
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Nuggets coach Brian Shaw didn't think Lee's missed free throw hit
the rim and asked the officials to look at the replay. However, he
was told by the refs it wasn't eligible to be reviewed.
Still, he felt they missed the play.
"In a situation where it's a dead ball and there's three referees
and there's no live action going on, just looking at the free throw,
I don't understand why that can't be seen," he said.
Forward Kenneth Faried had 17 points for the Nuggets, who lost their
fourth game in a row.
The Grizzlies were coming off a loss in Portland on Sunday, but they
managed to build a 16-point lead in the first half. Lee scored 13 to
lead Memphis, but Denver made a charge late in the second quarter to
get with 47-45 at the break.
Randolph, who took just four shots in the first half, came alive in
the third quarter. He scored 13 points in the period, 11 in the
final 4:16 as the Grizzlies turned a two-point lead into a 75-68
advantage heading into the fourth.
"I got rhythm," Randolph said. "Guys kept coming to me, I got a
little rhythm and (started) feeling good."
Rookie guard Nick Calathes scored five points to keep Memphis ahead
by seven, but Faried had a put-back and three free throws to make it
82-80 with 5:58 left. Faried had a chance to tie it, but his
turnaround in the lane was short.
NOTES: Nuggets F Wilson Chandler missed his fifth consecutive game
due to a left groin strain. Chandler, who has battled hip and groin
injuries all season, is not officially shut down, but with Denver
eliminated from the postseason, he might not play in the remaining
eight games. ... With Chandler out, Denver had only 10 players
available. ... The Grizzlies lead the NBA in fewest points allowed
(90.4 per game) since C Marc Gasol returned from a sprained left MCL
on Jan. 14. ... Grizzlies F Zach Randolph leads the team in points
(17.4 per game) and rebounds (10.1). He is also the franchise leader
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