Nuggets-Grizzlies Preview

The Denver Nuggets were one of the most challenging Western

Conference opponents for Memphis during the Grizzlies’ best season

in franchise history.

The Nuggets are hoping to add to that success and avoid their

longest losing streak in nine seasons when they face a below-.500

Grizzlies team for the first time this season Saturday night.

Denver won three of four meetings with a Memphis squad that

earned a franchise-best 56 victories in 2012-13 and advanced to the

conference finals. Only the Los Angeles Clippers matched that 3-1

mark among West teams.

In their next matchup with the Grizzlies, the Nuggets will face

a team struggling to match last season’s success.

Memphis (12-16) has dropped 11 of 16 but had won two in a row

before a 100-92 loss in Houston on Thursday. The Grizzlies are also

3-9 in their last 12 at home, but the Nuggets have lost five in a

row overall.

Denver (14-14) fell behind by double digits early in the second

quarter Friday in New Orleans and couldn’t recover in a 105-89

defeat. The Nuggets have averaged 90.6 points and shot 39.2 percent

during their skid after averaging 102.1 points and shooting 44.9

percent in their first 23 games.

They’ve also been a little short-handed lately with Kenneth

Faried (ankle) and Darrell Arthur (quad) joining JaVale McGee (leg)

and Danilo Gallinari (knee) on the injured list. With 22 points,

Wilson Chandler was the only player to score more than 16 in

Friday’s loss.

“We talked about just trying to stay together and pulling for

each other,” coach Brian Shaw said. “This is our team and we have

to play with the guys that we have, regardless of who’s out,

regardless of the fact that it is a tough stretch for us, losing

five in a row.”

With 23 points, Memphis’ Zach Randolph was the only player to

scored more than 12 in Thursday’s loss in Houston. He also drew a

$25,000 fine for his comments on the officiating after the

game.

“It was the refs tonight,” said Randolph, who received a

technical foul late in the game. “Eight against five. The game in

the second half, a man was shooting free throws every time. We were

out there playing hard, and they were dictating the game. It can’t

be like that. We are out there playing, too.

“It was horrible refereeing, it was a horrible game they reffed

tonight. Awful. They dictated the game. We are out there working as

hard as them.”

Randolph is averaging 23.3 points and 14.0 rebounds in his last

three games, but the Grizzlies remain one of the least productive

teams at 93.9 points per contest.

Denver was one of the best Western Conference teams at limiting

Randolph’s scoring last season, holding him to an average of 13.0

points in the four games. He also scored 13.0 per game in three

matchups with Sacramento in 2012-13.

The Nuggets will try to avoid their first six-game skid in one

season since Dec. 17-27, 2004. They dropped seven in a row from

April 12-Nov. 8, 2006.

Denver will also try to avoid a season-high third straight road

defeat. The Nuggets have dropped four of five in Memphis but earned

the lone win in their first visit last season, 97-92 on Nov. 19,

2012.

Denver hasn’t been under .500 since it was 5-6 on Nov. 21.