Nuggets Keep Grizzlies Winless at Pepsi Center
Denver 115, Memphis 101
DENVER, March 6 (Ticker) -- Carmelo Anthony and the Nuggets wasted no time letting the Grizzlies know that this would not be the night their struggles in Denver would come to an end.
Anthony scored 35 points and the hot-shooting Nuggets never trailed in a 115-101 victory over the Grizzlies, who have lost 17 straight visits to the Mile High City.
The last time the Nuggets lost at home to the Grizzlies was November 18, 1997, when they played at McNichols Arena and had just begun a franchise-worst 11-71 season. The Grizzlies were based in Vancouver and on their way to a 19-63 campaign.
"They're really good here," said Grizzlies forward Shane Battier, who was in the first month of his freshman season at Duke when the Grizzlies last won here. "They get out on the break, and they get the crowd involved. It's tough to beat them, and unfortunately we couldn't get it done here again this year."
The Nuggets (33-28) are 2-0 vs. the Grizzlies (33-27) this season, with both wins coming at home. The teams meet just once more this season.
It did not take long for the Grizzlies to tumble to 0-14 at the Pepsi Center. They fell behind 7-0, 15-6 and 25-17 after one period as Anthony scored 11 points.
"The past two days, George (coach George Karl) has been stressing that if the playoffs were today, this is who we'd play," Anthony said. "We wanted to make a statement right away and tell them this is what they'll see if they play us."
In the first half, the Nuggets played some of their best basketball of the season as they opened a 57-40 lead. Denver shot 57 percent (24-of-42) while holding Memphis to 37.5 percent (14-of-40). The Nuggets had 19 assists against just five turnovers and held a 27-15 advantage on the glass.
Denver shot even better in the third quarter, making 14-of-16 shots and widening the lead to as much as 26 points before settling for an 89-67 bulge heading into the final period.
"Carmelo had an incredible shooting night tonight," Karl said. "Having this tiebreaker against Memphis will come in handy."
In the third quarter, Anthony scored 17 points on 6-of-7 shooting as he had his way with Battier, considered one of the better defenders in the NBA and a fellow Team USA invitee.
The Grizzlies trailed by 25 points with less than 10 minutes to go before the Nuggets got sloppy and allowed the lead to dip to 106-97 with 4:01 remaining. However, Ruben Patterson made a pair of jumpers around two free throws by Miller to rebuild the lead to 15 points and seal the win.
Patterson scored 16 points and Marcus Camby added 13 for the Nuggets, who maintained their 2 1/2-game lead over Utah atop the Northwest Division.
"Everything seemed to be clicking for us tonight," Patterson said. "Carmelo was leading us, and we were rebounding well and getting out on the fast breaks."
Denver embarks on a seven-game, 10-day trip that includes stops in Philadelphia, Toronto, Boston, New York, Indiana, Memphis and New Orleans and features three sets of back-to-back games.
"We have seven games on the road coming up," Anthony said. "If we can win at least five of those games on this trip, it will define us as a team."
"It is going to be a challenge for us to go on the road," Karl said. "Even though we are going to be playing teams with poor records, some of those teams have been playing really well of late."
Former Nugget Bobby Jackson scored 22 points and fellow reserve Mike Miller added 15 for the Grizzlies, who had a three-game winning streak snapped and fell to 1-1 on a four-game road trip. Memphis shot 46 percent (36-of-78) and was outrebounded, 41-21.
"You've got to give them a lot of credit," Mike Miller said. "They played well tonight. They're an excellent team at getting the ball and getting out in transition. They just beat us."