Nuggets-Grizzlies Preview

Jeff Green has helped the Memphis Grizzlies win seven of eight games since joining the team two weeks ago.

That run of success would seem to have a good chance to continue Thursday night when the Grizzlies seek a fifth consecutive win against the visiting Denver Nuggets.

Memphis acquired Green in a three-team trade from Boston on Jan. 12 in the hopes the forward can push the Grizzlies deep into the postseason. Inserting one player, even with Green’s talents, means a transition for all, so the Grizzlies are busy redefining roles to find the best combinations.

The changes are working so far. Memphis has been winning and Green has reached double figures in six games, including 21 points on the road at Orlando and 18 last weekend in a home victory over Philadelphia.

He is averaging 13.6 points and 4.3 rebounds since joining Memphis.

"We’re going to get it right," forward Zach Randolph said. "It’s a good thing, trying to figure out the chemistry with Jeff."

Memphis improved to 33-12 after a 109-90 win at Dallas on Tuesday, good for second in the Western Conference. Green gives the Grizzlies a much-needed scorer as they try to reach the Western Finals for the second time in three years.

Green adds an option to the frontcourt with Randolph and center Marc Gasol, while his ability to shoot from outside eases the pressure on guards Mike Conley and Courtney Lee.

Memphis coach Dave Joerger said there’s a lack of practice time to implement plays designed for Green, so the Grizzlies are bringing back some plays they used when Rudy Gay played small forward.

"He’s just trying find himself on when he can attack," Joerger said. "And we’re trying to create lanes for him to attack where he knows there’s not going to be a big in front of him."

Green said he’s still is adapting, but remains confident he’ll blend with the team. That’s a switch from his tenure in Boston, where he was a primary focus of defenses.

"You get comfortable with repetition and time," Green said. "It’s been great having Marc and Zach looking for me on cuts. The lane has been there for me, I’ve just got to be aggressive."

Green is averaging 17.3 points over his last three meetings with Denver (19-27), and Memphis has won six of the past seven matchups at home.

The Grizzlies, though, lost 114-85 on the road to the Nuggets on Jan. 3, while Randolph was out with a sore knee.

Denver snapped a season-high seven-game losing streak with Wednesday’s 93-85 win at New Orleans, recovering after blowing a 16-point lead.

"We’ve been in a lot of games down the stretch during our losing streak and we’re learning how to win, how to have a sense of direction," guard Arron Afflalo said. "Obviously, we had guys step up and make good shots."

Afflalo was one of them, scoring 20 points while connecting on 7 of 13 from the floor – 4 of 7 from long range. He’s had at least 20 points in three of the last five games.

Afflalo reached that mark against the Grizzlies earlier this month, hitting 8 of 12 shots en route to 23 points.

Center JaVale McGee, who has not played since Dec. 5, mostly because of a strained muscle in his lower left leg, was active and in uniform Wednesday but still wound up missing his 27th straight game. Coach Brian Shaw said he did not think McGee had practiced enough to return.