The Denver Nuggets’ big men were badly outplayed by their
Memphis Grizzlies counterparts when the teams met last month, and
this time their entire starting frontcourt might be missing.
Denver may have a tough time bouncing back from one of its worst
offensive efforts of the season Friday night when it visits
defensive-minded Memphis, which seeks a third straight win and
fifth in six games.
The Nuggets (17-13) will be without leading scorer Danilo
Gallinari and center Timofey Mozgov due to ankle sprains, and top
rebounder Nene could miss a third consecutive game with a calf
strain. That starting trio was limited to 23 points and 14 rebounds
in a 100-97 overtime loss at Memphis on Jan. 31.
Marc Gasol and Rudy Gay led the Grizzlies (16-14) with 20 points
and 13 boards apiece. Marreese Speights, starting for the injured
Zach Randolph, had just five points and four rebounds versus Denver
but is coming off his best game in a Memphis uniform – 20 points
and 18 boards in Wednesday’s 105-100 win at New Jersey.
“A lot of people said I couldn’t do this and do that, so this is
a fresh opportunity,” said Speights, acquired last month in a trade
Wednesday marked just the second time in 21 games an opponent
reached 100 points against the Grizzlies, who allow 91.9 per game
to rank third among Western Conference teams. Memphis has won two
straight and four of five since a 2-7 slump.
“At the end of the day it’s about the Grizzlies getting a W,
whether it’s pretty or ugly,” said Tony Allen, who had 21 points
and five steals. “We try to do it together. This is a team thing.
Ain’t nothing pretty for us.”
Denver’s offense certainly wasn’t pretty in the first matchup
with Memphis, committing 25 turnovers. The Grizzlies lead the
league in turnovers forced (17.9 per game) and steals (10.2).
The Nuggets had another rough night offensively Wednesday, held
to a season-low 35.7 percent from the field in a 102-84 loss at
“We struggled on offense and that affected our defense,” forward
Al Harrington said. “They were just a better team tonight and we’ve
got to move on.”
Denver’s Arron Afflalo missed all six of his field-goal attempts
and had three points after averaging 23.0 over the previous three
Ty Lawson had three points on 1-of-8 shooting, marking the first
time he’s failed to score in double figures since Jan. 4. Lawson
totaled 44 points over the previous two games, and the Nuggets won
“Lawson’s penetration is something everybody in the league is
trying to solve,” Dallas coach Rick Carlisle said.
He’ll be matched up with Mike Conley, who is coming off his
first double-double of the month with 16 points and 10 assists.
Conley has averaged 17.3 points in his last four games.
Gay had 25 points Wednesday as Memphis improved to 12-4 when he
scores at least 20.
His small forward counterpart, Corey Brewer, shot a season-worst
3 for 15 on Wednesday and was held to nine points for a second
straight game as he fills in for Gallinari.
Kosta Koufos, starting for Mozgov, had 12 points and 14 rebounds
but now faces a tough matchup with Gasol, who is averaging 16.7
points and 10.5 boards at home.
The Grizzlies have won eight of 11 at home while allowing 89.5
points per game since a loss Jan. 10 to Oklahoma City – the only
visiting team to score 100 points in Memphis.