Despite constant trade rumors, Carmelo Anthony is playing some
of his best basketball of the season. Arron Afflalo has also
stepped up of late.
The Denver Nuggets will look for a 12th win in 13 games against
the Memphis Grizzlies on Sunday night in the opener of a three-game
With the score tied and Anthony on the sidelines after fouling
out with 19.6 seconds remaining Thursday against Dallas, Afflalo’s
jumper as time expired gave Denver (31-23) a 121-120 win.
“I’m really, really happy for him,” Chauncey Billups said of
Afflalo, who scored 19 of his 24 points in the fourth quarter.
“When I see the way he works on his game, day in and day out, and
finally reap some of the benefits of that, it makes you proud.”
Afflalo, who has averaged 15.5 points while making 10 of 20 from
3-point range in his last four games, recorded his second-highest
scoring output of the season with 25 points in a 108-107 win Dec. 5
Anthony continued his tremendous play Thursday, scoring 42
points on 17 of 25 from the floor. He is averaging 35.4 points on
57.7 percent shooting – including 61.1 percent from 3-point range –
during his last five contests.
“I just feel healthy,” he said. “I think that’s the number one
thing. My legs feel good. My body feels good and I’m starting to
make shots. I’ve always taken the same shots. Some nights I miss
’em and sometimes I make ’em. Right now, they’re going in.”
The four-time All Star continues to be the focus of trade
speculation as the Feb. 24 deadline draws near, but he’s been able
to keep his focus on the court.
“I take my hat off to myself for dealing with all this stuff
that’s going on out there and still be able to go out there and
play at the highest level,” said Anthony, averaging 31.0 points on
52.9 percent shooting during his last seven visits to Memphis.
The Nuggets, scoring an NBA-best 107.9 points per game, have
averaged 112.5 while taking 11 of 12 from the Grizzlies, including
the last three.
Denver’s potent offense figures to be tested by Memphis (26-29),
which has limited opponents to 94.6 points during a 10-3
The Grizzlies won for the fifth time in six home games Friday,
overcoming an 11-point third-quarter deficit en route to an 89-86
victory over Milwaukee despite playing without leading scorer and
rebounder Zach Randolph.
“I think it was more defense than anything,” said center Marc
Gasol, as Memphis improved to 5-0 when holding teams to under 37.0
percent shooting. “When you get a couple of stops and players are
talking to each other, that leads to defensive stops. Defense is
Randolph, averaging 20.2 points and a career-best 13.2 rebounds,
was sidelined with a sprained right ankle and his status for this
game is unknown.
Rudy Gay, held out of Tuesday’s 105-101 overtime win at Oklahoma
City due to a sprained right big toe, had 14 points and 10 rebounds
versus the Bucks for his third double-double in four games.
Gay scored 24 points in the Dec. 5 loss to Denver.