Grizzlies-Nuggets Preview

The Denver Nuggets lost their cool, and now need some help to

move up in the Western Conference. In home matchups with the

Memphis Grizzlies, though, they have not required any

assistance.

Coming off a costly defeat, the Nuggets look to continue their

home dominance over the Grizzlies on Monday night.

Denver (52-28) lost its composure in a 104-85 loss to San

Antonio on Saturday night, with Carmelo Anthony getting ejected for

jawing with officials in the fourth quarter. Chauncey Billups and

J.R. Smith were also hit with technicals later in the game.

A poor effort in a crucial contest gave the Nuggets good reason

to be frustrated. Denver fell one game behind second-place Dallas

in the West, and dropped into a tie with Utah for the Northwest

Division lead.

The Nuggets, who had a four-game winning streak end, will need

to win their final two contests and get some help to overtake the

Mavericks, who also have two games remaining.

“Every loss at this point of the season is costly,” Billups

said.

To win the Northwest, Denver may have to end a 10-game losing

streak at Phoenix on Tuesday night. The Nuggets should be much more

comfortable hosting the Grizzlies (40-40), a franchise that has

lost 22 of the last 23 at Denver.

The Nuggets have won nine of 10 overall against the

Grizzlies.

Kenyon Martin missed Denver’s 125-108 win over Memphis on March

13 due to patellar tendinitis in his left knee. It was one of 18

games the veteran forward missed before returning to the starting

lineup against the Spurs.

Acting coach Adrian Dantley monitored Martin’s playing time

closely, limiting him to 23 minutes in his first contest since

March 3. Martin was held to six points, but had 10 rebounds and

provided his usual spark on defense.

“It’s a positive for the team just to have me back out there,”

Martin said.

Memphis may be without second-year guard O.J. Mayo, who suffered

a mild left ankle sprain in the first quarter of a 120-101 loss to

Philadelphia on Saturday night. He left the game following the

injury and returned later in the quarter, but was hobbling and

eventually left for good.

Mayo is listed as day to day. If he can’t play, Marcus Williams

will likely take his spot in the starting lineup.

Mayo had a career-high 40 points in a 133-123 loss to Denver on

Nov. 1. Mayo, averaging 17.5 points and 1.2 steals, has helped the

Grizzlies improve from a 25-58 season.

Still, Memphis will miss the playoffs for the fourth straight

time.

“We have some work to do this summer,” Gay told the Grizzlies’

official Web site. “We’re not where we want to be.”

Memphis needs one win to finish above .500 for the fourth time

in franchise history. The Grizzlies, though, have lost four of five

and had dropped four straight on the road before beating San

Antonio 107-99 on Friday night.