THE FACTS: The Grizzlies offense was struggling as it has for the better part of December, including forward Rudy Gay, who had missed 10 of 14 shots. But when the Grizzlies needed their leading scorer the most, he delivered. Gay made his last four shots and came up with a steal that keyed a 10-0 run late in the fourth quarter to give the Grizzlies an 81-72 victory over the Denver Nuggets Friday night at FedExForum. He finished with a game-high 19 points. It's the Grizzlies first win in three tries against Denver this season.
QUOTABLE: "His worth was definitely shown today. He carried us down the stretch and made big boy baskets down the stretch. It's a great team win. Hopefully, we can take some of these things and carry it over into the next game."
-- Grizzlies guard Tony Allen on Gay.
THE STAT: Through three quarters, the Grizzlies offense was abysmal. They were shooting 34.8 percent from the floor after a 27 percent third quarter. But led by their bench, the Grizzlies shot 60 percent in the final quarter in which they outscored Denver, 28-15.
TURNING POINT: Grizzlies' coach Lionel Hollins had gone almost exclusively with his bench in the final period, which erased a 57-53 deficit to start the fourth and had taken a 64-62 lead on a Darrell Arthur jumper with 7:24 to play. Hollins, however, turned to his closer, Gay, down the stretch and he delivered in a big way with three straight baskets during that 10-0 run.
HOT: Denver did dominate Memphis at its own game -- points in the paint. The Nuggets outscored the Grizzlies in that department, 48-30, mainly because they held center Marc Gasol to just six points and Zach Randolph to 12. It was a season-low for the Grizzlies.
NOT: Denver forward Danilo Gallinari was coming off a 39-point game at Dallas Friday night. Allen of the Grizzlies was well aware of that and vowed not to let it happen again. As usual, he delivered, holding Gallinari to just seven points, nine below his average, on 2 of 8 shooting.
QUOTABLE II: "We need to get excited about January. This has been whatever word you want to use -- treacherous, difficult, fatiguing -- but we're done and we have a great month of January. We have to get better. We have to improve and get more confidence, protect the home court and see who we can become."
-- Denver coach George Karl after playing 21 of 31 road games to start the season.
NOTABLE: Memphis forward Quincy Pondexter was diagnosed with a sprained left MCL. Teammate Wayne Ellington bumped knees with Pondexter while charging in on a missed free throw by Denver's JaVale McGee with 3.1 seconds left in the third quarter. He is scheduled to have an MRI on Sunday. ... How bad was the offense in this game? The Grizzlies led 19-15 after the first quarter. Denver used a last 8-0 run to lead 37-36 at the half. And heading into the third, the Nuggets were up 57-53. ... Denver point guard Ty Lawson scored just three points and was 1 of 7 from the floor, including 0 for 3 from 3-point range. ... Heading into the game, Denver coach Karl said turnovers would be a key, and they were. The Nuggets committed 17 of them, including six in the fourth quarter. Those turnovers led to 30 points for the Grizzlies, who committed just 11. ... One of the reasons the Grizzlies struggle to score is they aren't getting many easy baskets. They were held to just nine fast break points. ... McGee was active in the middle for Denver, scoring 12 points to go with nine rebounds and six blocked shots. ... After playing 21 of its first 31 games on the road, the Nuggets return to the Pepsi Center where they will play seven of their next eight games. ... For the first time this season, Memphis forward Marreese Speights led the team in rebounding with 10 off the bench. He also had eight points.
UP NEXT: For the Nuggets: Tuesday vs. L.A. Clippers, Thursday vs. Minnesota, Saturday vs. Utah; For the Grizzlies, Monday @ Indiana, Wednesday @ Boston, Friday vs. Portland.