But down the stretch as they battle with Dallas and Phoenix for
the last two playoff spots in the Western Conference, the Grizzlies
have found their home court to be a sanctuary.
That was true on Friday night as the Grizzlies defeated the Denver
Nuggets 100-92 for their 11th straight home victory.
Memphis (45-31) was coming off a 2-3 road trip that spanned nine
days, multiple time zones, and had the team running on fumes.
"We needed that, to be home and play in front of our fans," said
center Marc Gasol, who scored a game-high 24 points. "They did a
great job of supporting us."
Memphis point guard Mike Conley scored 21 and power forward Zach
Randolph had his 44th double-double of the season with 20 points and
15 rebounds, plus four assists and three blocks.
Conley and Randolph had combined for a mere 11 points in losing at
Minnesota on Wednesday.
"We all know this team goes as far as we take them," Conley said,
referring to Gasol, Randolph and himself.
"Zach and Marc and Mike were all big for us in the second half,"
Grizzlies coach Dave Joerger said.
Conley scored 19 of his points in the second half and went 10-for-11
from the free-throw line after not getting to the line at all in the
"Coach said we need to get you going, don't be so passive," Conley
Denver (33-43) had stretched its four-point halftime lead to a 52-43
advantage less than a minute into the third quarter after a jumper
from forward Kenneth Faried (17 points and 12 rebounds) and a
3-pointer from guard Aaron Brooks (11 points).
But when forward Quincy Miller bricked a fast-break dunk at the
10:39 mark in the third quarter, it started a momentum change.
"We go up 11 if he makes that dunk," Denver coach Brian Shaw said.
"We just kind of fizzled from that point on."
From the missed dunk until 4:15 was left in the game, the Grizzlies
outscored Denver 47-24 and stretched the lead to 90-76.
The Nuggets cut the lead to four with 52 seconds to play, but got no
Memphis overcame Denver's 46-38 edge in rebounds and 19-9 advantage
in fast-break points. The Grizzlies scored 17 points off 20 Denver
turnovers. Both teams shot below 40 percent.
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"It was kind of an ugly game," Shaw said. "(The Grizzlies) are
scrapping. They want to solidify a spot in the playoffs. Obviously,
we're just trying to play hard and get a win."
Point guard Ty Lawson scored 16 points for Denver, but went down
under the basket near game's end, and after shooting free throws,
limped off to the locker room. Shooting guard Randy Foye led Denver
with 21 points and nine rebounds.
"Even though we aren't in the playoffs, we still want to win the
game," said Nuggets center Timofey Mozgov, who scored 13 points. "We
have to fight until the last game."
Memphis small forward Tayshaun Prince scored 12 points in the first
half before having to leave the game with a sprained left ankle. His
status, and that of Lawson, was not clear after Friday's game.
The Grizzlies have six games remaining, starting with Sunday night
at San Antonio
Right now, the Spurs would be the top seed in the West. If the
Grizzlies were to get the No. 8 seed, it would set up a rematch of
last season's conference finals when San Antonio swept the
"I anticipate the Spurs will come fully loaded," Joerger said.
NOTES: Nuggets PG Ty Lawson did not start Friday night. He was
disciplined by coach Brian Shaw for reportedly being late to a team
breakfast meeting. G Aaron Brooks started in Lawson's place. ...
Memphis SG Courtney Lee is shooting a career-best 49.1 percent from
the floor this season. Before Friday, the Grizzlies were 29-13 since
acquiring Lee in a deal with the Boston Celtics. ... The Grizzlies
finished their five-game road trip 2-3, losing the last game at
Minnesota on Monday as PF Kevin Love had a triple-double and Memphis
PG Mike Conley and PF Zach Randolph were a combined 4-for-23 from
the field with 11 points. ... On March 31 at Denver, the Nuggets
outscored Memphis 24-19 in the fourth quarter but the Grizzlies held
on for a 94-92 victory. ... Since March 1, Denver F Kenneth Faried
is averaging 20.0 points and 10.0 rebounds heading into Friday's
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