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Randolph, Lee help Grizzlies hold off Nuggets

By The Associated Press

Posted March 31, 2014 23:14

DENVER (AP) -- The Memphis Grizzlies had a bumpy ride into Denver early Monday. They had a hard landing Monday night and still managed to keep themselves in the thick of the postseason hunt.

Zach Randolph had 20 points and 11 rebounds, Mike Conley added 19 points and the Grizzlies kept pace in the playoff race with a 94-92 win over the Denver Nuggets.

The Grizzlies moved into a three-way tie with Dallas and Phoenix for seventh in the Western Conference. Memphis plays both teams once more - at the Suns on April 14 and home against the Mavericks in the regular-season finale two days later.

The rest of the schedule includes road games at Minnesota and San Antonio, and a home game with Miami, which is battling for the top seed in the Eastern Conference.

''We've got to keep playing,'' Randolph said. ''Each game is an important game for us, so we've got to come out with a sense of urgency.''

Courtney Lee scored 19 points for Memphis, which stopped a two-game skid after an adventurous flight from Portland into Denver early Monday morning. The Grizzlies' landing into Denver International Airport was rough thanks to high winds in the area.

''Oh my gosh,'' Randolph said. ''Oh man.''

The Grizzlies also handled the turbulence created by the Nuggets. Randolph said the Grizzlies have to be ready for teams with nothing on the line, especially with every game important in their playoff push.

''A lot of teams is just free-styling, ain't going postseason so they don't care so they're playing freely,'' he said. ''We're playing for something so we've got to come out from the beginning.''

The Nuggets nearly hurt Memphis' playoff chances, coming from seven down in the fourth to make it a last-possession game.

Denver rallied to get within 88-86 on Timofey Mozgov's free throw and the teams traded buckets before Conley banked in a 3-pointer to make it 93-88 with 36 seconds left.

''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 Randy Foye hit a layup for the Nuggets, Randolph missed a pair of free throws with 8.2 seconds remaining. Denver got the rebound, called a timeout and set up a play for the 7-foot-1 Mozgov at the 3-point line. He missed but then dunked the rebound to get the Nuggets within 93-92.

''We know that I can make 3s,'' Mozgov said. ''We tried. I just missed it. It wasn't good.''

The miss wasn't as costly as Mozgov's decision to dunk his rebound instead of pass it out to a teammate for another attempt to tie the game.

''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, hit the first free throw and deliberately missed the second to end the game. Nuggets coach Brian Shaw didn't think Lee's missed free throw hit the rim and pleaded with the refs to look at the replay. The officials told him it wasn't a reviewable play.

''In a situation where it's a deadball 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,'' Shaw said.

Mozgov tied a career high with 23 points to go with 10 rebounds and Kenneth Faried had 17 points for the Nuggets, who have dropped four in a row.

The teams play again Friday in Memphis.

The Grizzlies jumped out to 16-point lead in the second quarter on Lee's 13 points. But the Nuggets rallied behind Mozgov, who had seven points in the final 3:01 on three dunks and a free throw to cut Memphis' lead to 47-45 at the break.

Randolph took over late in the third quarter to help Memphis build a 75-68 lead heading into the fourth. Randolph scored 11 of his 13 points in the period in the final 4:16 as the Grizzlies expanded a two-point lead to seven.

NOTES: Nuggets F Wilson Chandler missed his fifth straight game with a left groin strain. ... The Grizzlies are 27-11 since Marc Gasol returned from a sprained MCL in his left knee on Jan. 14. ... The Nuggets had just 10 players available for the game.


STAR OF THE GAME

Zach Randolph

Points 20 8-15 FG, 4-8 FT
Rebounds 11, 2 OFF 9 DEF
Assists 3
Steals 1
Blocks 0
GAME LEADERS
Points Zach Randolph 20
Rebounds Zach Randolph 11
Assists Ty Lawson 6
Steals Kenneth Faried, Tony Allen 3
Blocks Six with 1
QUOTE OF THE NIGHT

Nuggets center Timofey Mozgov on game-tying 3-point attempt in final seconds

"I can make a 3-pointer, maybe not like the best, but I can. I got the ball but just missed it."

KEY MOMENT

Mike Conley clutch for Memphis late

The Grizzlies were clinging to a two-point lead in the final minute when Mike Conley worked the shot clock all the way down and drained a 3-pointer to make it a two-possession game with 35.8 seconds to go.

VIDEO RECAP

Postgame Quotes

Nuggets coach Brian Shaw

On tonight’s game:
“Well I thought our guys fought hard. We never got to a point where we could take advantage of the fact that they played last night [and] they got in late. We were never able to get to where we got clean rebounds and really be able to get out and push it and force the tempo.”

On Memphis' final free throw attempt:
“I don’t understand why that’s not reviewable. If they’re (the referees) not sure, why they can’t take a look and make sure that ball did or didn’t hit the rim because we wouldn’t have been able to advance because we were out of time outs but we would still have been able to have one more shot at it and throw in a long pass and get up a shot maybe. They said that play wasn’t one of the triggers that allowed them to go and review it, which I still don’t understand what you can review and what you can’t review. In a situation where it’s a dead ball and there are three referees and there is no live action going on, just looking at the free throw itself, I still don’t understand why that can’t be seen. I’m going to be looking for some clarification on that rule after this game.”

On if he called the second inbound play for Timofey Mozgov or not:
“Well on the fly, we tried to get the first play [off] and they tipped the ball on what we were going to go. We kind of just improvised and ran the second one and our guys just take advantage of whoever’s man is sagging the deepest in the paint or away from their man until somebody can screen that man so he can come off and have a free look. Timo hit his first three the other night in San Antonio on that same play and Darrell [Arthur] has a couple threes off that play as well. Timo got a good look. I didn’t think they we’re going to let our guards come off and get a clean look but in that situation we need a three… We got a look at it. We got a chance to tie the game up and that’s all you can ask for in that situation.”

Nuggets center Timofey Mozgov

On drawing motivation over final nine games:
“First of all, we know I can make a 3-pointer, maybe not like the best, but I can. I got the ball but just missed it; I thought it was going in.”

On finishing around the rim
"We were talking last time, I need to finish better. We speak a lot and video. I tried to work on this and finish with two hands."

On guarding Zach Randolph:
“It’s not easy. Zach is a big dude and he likes to push around. It's not easy. Marc is a big dude, too. He's a very good player too.”

On his effectiveness against Memphis:
"I can't exactly tell the difference because I try to do everything the same way. I tried to do my preparation the same way and set my mind the same way. I don't think I did something different. I just tried to go to work."

On offensive rebound after missed 3:
"I shoot it and step in to rebound. I was thinking I had time. I didn't see anybody open. I just tried to get a quick two points. I need to see the video. Maybe it was my mistake. Maybe it was my mistake and somebody was open. Maybe I need to take another dribble step back and shoot it, but I don't think so.

Nuggets forward Darrell Arthur

On the Nuggets out of bounds play with 7.1 seconds to play:
“Well the first out of bounds play that we ran they kind of blew that up—Tayshaun (Prince) with his length, he kind of blew it up, so we had to go an alternate route. It was just a play that we ran, and Timo (Mozgov) made the same shot against San Antonio and he had an open look. He had a good shot at the rim; he just didn’t know how much time was on the clock and didn’t get it back out to the three-point line.”

On if it was a typical physical game against the Memphis front court:
“Yeah, for sure—they pound you inside, both Zach (Randolph) and Marc (Gasol). They killed us on the offensive glass. Even when we got the initial stop they still got the second chance opportunities, and it’s just a lesson learned. We just have to learn from it and we’ll see them again on Friday and have a better game.”

On what Timofey Mozgov did differently today to have so much offensive success:
“He just rolled aggressively. He didn’t really do anything differently; he just made his dunk attempts that he got at the rim. He did a great job running the floor today and using his speed, knocking his jumpers down—he played well.”

Grizzlies coach David Joerger

On the win tonight:
“I’m really proud of our guys. They stuck together and did whatever they had to. It wasn’t pretty. I think we shot 13-for-23 from the foul line and they shot 14-for-24. There were some fumbles and some mistakes. But that team is well coached and they play hard. Our guys played extremely hard tonight. They shared the basketball and we attacked. We didn’t make a lot of shots, but I thought we had some good looks. Zach [Randolph] was tremendous in the third and fourth quarter. In the second half [Randolph] was very aggressive and he just put us on his back. It allowed us to rest some guys. Mike Conley hit some big shots. I thought we did a good job of executing and getting the shots we wanted down the stretch. [The Nuggets] are dangerous because all of those guys can make threes. I am proud of our guys and we will see them again in a week.”

On how the Grizzlies clinched the win:
“However you win them is how you take them. We tried to get it slowed down because if they get out and run, it is hard for us to chase. Playing from a lead was important for us so we could take the hit of a 6-0 run. [The Nuggets] have guys that can really run and score, and they have multiple play makers. It is hard for us the way that we are built to come back. But we did enough as a team defensively.”

On the Nuggets 12-4 run prior to half:
“I think we got a little bit of tired legs going and [the Nuggets] were just catching their second wind and were rolling. We weren’t getting back in transition and were giving up easy baskets. Their bigs got out and ran after we would shoot a made jump shot. We just had heavy legs. But then you get in the second half and as a player you kind of know you only have 24 minutes left. But it is tough playing back-to- back.”

Grizzlies forward Zach Randolph:

On being in position to make the playoffs:
“We just have to keep playing each game. Each game is an important game for us. We have to come out with a sense of urgency. We know what we’re playing for. A lot of teams are just out there free styling, they aren’t going to the postseason so they don’t care they’re playing freely. We know what we’re playing for so we have to come out from the beginning.”

On if experience helps down the stretch:
“It does. We just have to stay positive and take on game at a time.”

Grizzlies guard Courtney Lee:

On what this win means:
“Every game for now on we have to get. We have to give credit to those guys. They came out and competed the whole way but this game meant a little bit more to us so we needed to get it.”

On matchup in the post:
“Coach made that adjustment keeping Marc [Gasol] and Zach [Randolph] in there. We just dominated down low, just throwing the ball to them. They played three point guards at one time so tried to post up Tayshaun [Prince], that’s the right read. They started hitting a lot of shots but it worked out to our advantage at the end.”

POSTGAME NOTES

INDIVIDUAL

• Timofey Mozgov led all scorers with a career-high tying 23 points (9-15 FG) to go with a team-high 10 rebounds. It was his second career 20-point/10-rebound game and fourth career 20-point game, with three of those coming this season. Additionally, it was Mozgov’s ninth career double-double and seventh of the year.

• Kenneth Faried registered 17 points, eight boards and three steals. Tonight was the fourth time in his last six games that he has had 2+ steals and he is averaging 2.17 steals per game during this stretch.

• Randy Foye had 13 points (1-8 3FG), a season-high nine rebounds, four assists and two steals. It was just the third time in his career he has had 13+ points and 9+ rebounds in the same game, and the first time doing so with two steals.

• Zach Randolph paced the Grizzlies with 20 points, 11 rebounds and three assists tonight. It was Randolph’s 24th 20-point/10-rebound game of the season, and the 240th of his career.

• Courtney Lee posted 19 points (3-5 3FG), seven rebounds and three assists. It was just the second time in Lee’s career he has had 19+ points and 7+ rebounds in the same game. It was his 41st career-game with three-or-more three-pointers.

TEAM

• With tonight’s loss, Denver has now won 27 of the last 30 home games over Memphis and has dropped two of the last five. Tonight was just the fifth time the Memphis franchise has won in Denver (5-31 all time).

• The Nuggets registered their 18th home loss of the season, their most home losses since 2006-07.

• Denver is now 7-2 on the year and 53-10 since 2009-10 when facing a team on the second game of a back-to-back set.

• The Nuggets fall to 3-26 this season when failing to score 100-or-more points. They are now 16-6 on the year (8-3 at home) when holding their opponent to under 100 points.

• Denver trailed by as many as 16 tonight and were able to cut the lead to two points six times and one point one time.

• Timofey Mozgov led the Nuggets in scoring with 23 points. He is the sixth Nugget in the last six games to lead the team in scoring.

• The Grizzlies shot .556 (5-9 3FG) from beyond the arc tonight. It was the sixth time this season a Nuggets’ opponent has shot 50%-or-better from three, with Denver going 0-6 in those games.

• Memphis recorded just 17 assists tonight, the 10th time this season a Nuggets’ opponent has had 17-or-fewer assists (Denver is 6-4 in those games).