Nuggets face Grizzlies in second home game in 19 days

Denver returns to Pepsi Center after latest extended road trip
by Aaron Lopez
Nuggets.com

The well-traveled Denver Nuggets finally get to play another home game.

That doesn’t necessary mean a break from their difficult schedule.

After going 2-3 on their most recent road trip, the Nuggets (11-12) will face the Memphis Grizzlies in a nationally televised game (ESPN, Altitude) Friday night at Pepsi Center.

The Grizzlies (14-5) boast the third-best record in the Western Conference, but have lost 3 of 5 games since going 12-2 to start the season. One of those first two losses came against Denver on Nov. 19.

Remarkably, the Nuggets have played just three home games since beating the Grizzlies, and one since beating New Orleans on Nov. 25

“We’re only halfway through the (tough part) of the schedule,” Nuggets coach George Karl said Thursday. “We still have two or three more weeks before we get some sunshine. We have to take care of some really good opponents, starting with Memphis tomorrow night.”

In the first game against Memphis, the Nuggets grabbed 21 offensive rebounds to help offset 17 turnovers in a physical 97-92 victory.

Danilo Gallinari scored 26 points and Denver big men Kenneth Faried, Kosta Koufos and JaVale McGee combined for 36 points and 30 rebounds. The Grizzlies as a team finished with 33 rebounds.

Faried exploded for 26 points and 14 rebounds in Wednesday night’s loss to Minnesota. He had scored 22 points in his previous four games combined. The big night was little consolation in a defeat.

“Anytime you lose, it's a terrible game,” Faried said. “You can't put stats out there or what you did because it's a team effort, and I didn't provide enough for my team to win.”

Gallinari added 24 points on 9-of-13 shooting and Ty Lawson had 17 points and 11 assists against the Timberwolves, but Denver’s most consistent player of late has been reserve forward Corey Brewer.

Brewer has scored at least 14 points off the bench over the past six games and is averaging 17 points during that span.

Brewer also is Denver’s leading 3-point shooter (.372) but the Nuggets are tied for 26th in the NBA from behind the arc (.333).

“We have an offense that needs spacing and we’re struggling to make shots,” Karl said. “The guys are trying hard, but the efficiency and the flow of the rhythm of how we play offensively has been inconsistent. Because of that, I don’t think it wears the other team out the way it normally does.”



GRIZZLIES AT NUGGETS

WHEN: 8:30 p.m. MT
WHERE: Pepsi Center, Denver
TV; RADIO: Altitude, ESPN; 104.3 FM, AM-950

PROBABLE STARTERS
DENVER

F Danilo Gallinari
F Kenneth Faried
C Kosta Koufos
G Andre Iguodala
G Ty Lawson

MEMPHIS
F Rudy Gay
F Zach Randolph
C Marc Gasol
G Tony Allen
G Mike Conley

INJURY REPORT
DENVER:
Wilson Chandler (hip) and Julyan Stone (hip) are out.
MEMPHIS: None to report.

SERIES NOTES
Denver has won 13 of the last 18 games overall against Memphis … The Nuggets have owned the Grizzlies in Denver, having won 24 of the last 26 home games against Memphis since the 1998-99 season (including eight of the last nine) … The Nuggets have played well in Memphis in recent years, having won nine of the last 15 meetings with the Grizzlies in Memphis since 2004-05, including six of the last 10 … 2011-12 was the first time in five years that Denver didn’t win the season series … Denver has won the series six times in the last eight years … Memphis’ Zach Randolph is the last Nuggets individual opponent to register a 20/20 game during the regular season (had 32 points and 24 rebounds at Memphis on 12/20/09).