Grizzlies-Nuggets Preview

The Southwest Division-leading Memphis Grizzlies are turning around a tough stretch behind impressive 3-point shooting, particularly from Mike Conley.

Conley will try to keep the Grizzlies rolling Saturday night when they visit the Denver Nuggets, one of the worst defensive teams in the NBA.

Memphis (24-8) has followed a four-game slide with three straight wins, thanks in large part to hitting 44.4 percent from behind the arc – 8.4 higher than its season mark.

The Grizzlies were making just 22.4 percent of their 3s during the recent losing streak.

Conley has been vital to the turnaround, averaging 24.3 points while sinking 11 of 16 from long range.

The guard connected on half of Memphis’ six 3s and finished with a team-high 19 points in Friday’s 109-106 road win over the Los Angeles Lakers.

"We’re comfortable playing in close games," coach Dave Joerger said. "I think teams gain confidence by winning close games. I thought this was a tale of two halves. The second half was a lot better than the first."

The Grizzlies may be in for another big offensive performance. They averaged 105.5 points and connected on 39.2 from long range in taking three of four from Denver (13-20) last season.

Conley averaged 21.0 points on 50.0 percent from the floor over the past three meetings. He hit that average in a 100-92 win April 4, but he needed to go 10 for 11 from the line to compensate for missing six of seven 3-pointers.

Marc Gasol scored 24 in that matchup, but he’s been limited to 11.3 per game in eight visits to Denver. The center had 13 points and missed 13 of 19 from the floor as Memphis won 94-92 at Denver on March 31.

The Nuggets surrender 104.6 points per game, tying Phoenix for the league’s third-worst average.

They’ve been much worse lately, yielding an average of 111.0 points and 50.8 percent shooting from 3-point range during a three-game slide.

They squandered a 13-point, third-quarter lead and fell 106-101 at Chicago on Thursday, as the Bulls hit 8 of 15 from beyond the arc.

"I don’t think we’ve got that killer instinct yet as a team," said forward Kenneth Faried, who had 18 points and 19 rebounds. "We show glimpses of it, but then it fades away."

Ty Lawson is doing his part while averaging 21.8 points over the past five games. The guard hasn’t come close to being that productive at home against the Grizzlies, scoring 12.2 in six contests.

Lawson had eight points and six assists in the last home meeting with Memphis.

Wilson Chandler missed the last two matchups with Memphis with a groin injury. He’s scored at least 20 points in three of his last four games, including 22 against the Bulls.

The Nuggets have won 11 of 13 at home against the Grizzlies.