Notebook: Nuggets 87, Grizzlies 80

Posted Mar 16, 2013 1:29 AM

By Michael Kelly, For

THE FACTS: The Denver Nuggets are accustomed to winning high-scoring games. Friday, they figured out how to grind out a victory.

Kosta Koufos scored 18 points and grabbed a career-high 16 rebounds, Danilo Gallinari had 15 points and the Nuggets overcame a bad third quarter to pull out an 87-80 win over the Memphis Grizzlies. The win was the 11th in a row and 15th straight at home for Denver (45-22). More importantly, it moved the Nuggets within a half-game of the Grizzlies and Los Angeles Clippers for third in the Western Conference. Denver also won the season series from the Grizzlies, 3-1.

Zach Randolph had 18 points and 18 rebounds for Memphis (44-20), which had its six-game winning streak snapped.

QUOTABLE: "Tonight's game was a man's game. We didn't have anybody playing at a high level, skill-wise, and it was a game you won because of heart and toughness and gut."

-- Nuggets coach George Karl

THE STAT: Denver had scored at least 100 points in its last 11 games, and 29 of its last 34. The Nuggets hadn't scored fewer than 90 since an 81-72 loss at Memphis on Dec. 29.

TURNING POINT: The start of the fourth quarter. Denver's defense did enough in the third to keep the Grizzlies within eight points before the offense found some footing. The Nuggets scored the first nine points and went on a 17-4 run to take a five-point lead. After Memphis tied it at 78, Gallinari hit two free throws and Koufos a small jump hook to give Denver the lead for good. Andre Iguodala sealed it with a steal and a dunk to make it 86-80 with 50 seconds left.

QUOTABLE II: "We had a couple of bad turnovers, they had an offensive rebound under the basket to start the [fourth] quarter. When you have a couple of bad plays, it's all about the timing. And the timing wasn't good."

-- Memphis forward Tayshaun Prince

HOT: Koufos has shown he can score when needed. He had a career-high 22 at Phoenix on Monday and followed it up with another solid performance. He takes advantage when the opponents' big men move off of him to help out when Denver's guards drive to the basket, leading to a lot of open shots.

NOT: The Nuggets in the third quarter. They missed 11 off their first 12 shots, including six straight to start the period, and were 4-for-20 overall. They committed six turnovers and scored a season-low 10 points for a period. The only positive was Memphis didn't blow it open. It was an eight-point game headed to the fourth.

QUOTABLE III: "We survived with our defense. Our offense wasn't very good. You grow playing these kinds of games and you learn so much."

-- Danilo Gallinari

GOOD MOVE: The Grizzlies got Denver to play at their pace in the first three quarter. The Nuggets' 68 points heading into the fourth was closer to Memphis' style. Denver seemed out of sync, settling for contested jumpers.

BAD MOVE: The Grizzlies start of the fourth quarter. They had Denver where they wanted but they couldn't sustain the lead. Four missed shots and three turnovers in the first four minutes gave the Nuggets life and ignited the crowd.

QUOTABLE IV: "It's when you make turnovers. You can have 20 turnovers in the first half, but if you make two or three in the fourth quarter with two minutes to go it's probably going to cost you the game."

-- Memphis coach Lionel Hollins

NOTABLE: Denver last won 11 straight 30 years to the day -- March 15, 1983. ... The Nuggets have beaten Memphis 26 of the last 28 games played in Denver. ... Randolph has 26 career games in which he's had at least 18 points and 18 rebounds. It's the ninth time he's had 10 offensive boards. ... Denver went 1-for-12 from 3-point range, marking the first time it won with so few makes from there since beating Portland on Nov. 14, 2007.

UP NEXT: For the Grizzlies, Saturday @ Utah, Monday vs. Minnesota, Wednesday vs. Oklahoma City. For the Nuggets, Monday @ Chicago, Tuesday @ Oklahoma City, Thursday vs. Philadelphia.