The 14-5 Memphis Grizzlies have lost 2 games in a row for the first time this season. The Grizzlies lost Wednesday night at the Phoenix Suns 82-80. Now the Grizzlies try to end that skid Friday night in a nationally televised contest at the Denver Nuggets (9:30 pm Central, ESPN). The Nuggets are 11-12 this season under coach George Karl.
Earlier this season, the Denver Nuggets handed the Memphis Grizzlies their first home loss of the season 97-92. In the process, Denver also snapped an 8 game winning streak for Memphis with that win. The Grizzlies beat the Nuggets in Denver last March 94-91 fourth their fourth ever win in Denver in 32 tries. The two teams will play again in Memphis on December 29, but won’t play again until March 15 in Denver.
Despite losing 3 of their last five games, the Grizzlies, coached by Lionel Hollins, still have the third best record in the Western Conference. They trail the Oklahoma City Thunder by 2 1/2 games and the San Antonio Spurs by a game and a half. The Spurs lead the Grizzlies by a game and a half in the Southwest Division.
The Nuggets lost 108-105 Wednesday night at the Minnesota Timberwolves. It was the last game of a 5 game road trip for Denver, where they went 2-3. The Nuggets are in fourth place in the Northwest Division, 7.5 games behind the Thunder.
Memphis is outscoring teams 97-91 this season. They lead the league in points allowed and are #13 in scoring. The Grizzlies are shooting 44.3% from the field and 36% from 3 point range. The Grizzlies are #14 in field goal percentage and #12 in three point shooting. Memphis is #3 in the league in free throw shooting at 80.3% from the line. The Grizzlies average 42.3 rebounds per game and give up 39.7. Memphis is #4 in rebounds allowed. Grizzlies’ opponents are shooting 43.2% from the field and 34.3% from 3 point range. Memphis is in the top 10 in the league in both categories. The Grizzlies average 20.8 assists, 9.3 steals, 5.7 blocks and 15.1 turnovers a game.
Small forward Rudy Gay averages 19.1 points per game, 6.5 rebounds, 2.4 assists, 1.3 steals and 1.1 blocks a game. Forward Zach Randolph averages 17.6 points, 12.8 rebounds to lead the team, and 1.2 assists per game. Randolph is second in the league in rebounding. Center Marc Gasol averages 15.7 points, 7.1 rebounds, 4.4 assists, and 1.6 blocks per game to lead the team. Point guard Mike Conley, Jr. averages 13.9 points, 2.9 rebounds, 6.3 assists, and 2.6 steals a game to lead the team in the latter two categories. Guard Tony Allen, forward Marreese Speights, Bayless, forward Quincy Pondexter, Guard Wayne Ellington and forward Darrell Arthur make up the rest of the rotation. Allen starts at shooting guard.
Denver is being outscored 101-100.9 this season. The Nuggets are shooting 46.3% from the field and 33.3% from 3 point range. Denver is in the top 10 in scoring and field goal percentage. The Nuggets are last in the league in free throw shooting at 67.2% from the line. Denver averages 45 rebounds per game and gives up 41.5 to opponents. The Nuggets are #5 in rebounds and #11 in rebounds allowed. Denver opponents are shooting 44.4% from the field and 38.4% from 3 point range. The Nuggets are #28 in three point defense. Denver averages 22.1 assists, 7.9 steals, 6.5 blocks, and 16 turnovers.
Small forward Danilo Gallinari averages 15.6 points, 6 rebounds, and 2.7 assists. Point guard Ty Lawson averages 14.8 points, 2.7 rebounds, 7.1 assists, and 2 assists a game. Guard Andre Igoudala averages 13.6 points, 5.3 rebounds, 3.8 assists, and 1.1 steals a game. Forward Kenneth Faried averages 12.4 points, 10 rebounds, a steal, and a block per game. Forward Corey Brewer averages 11.8 points, 2.9 points, and 1.2 steals per game. Center JaVale McGee averages 10.9 points, 5.3 rebounds, and 1.9 blocks per game. Andre Miller, Kosta Koufos, Wilson Chandler, Jordan Hamilton, and Timophey Mozgov make up the rest of the rotation. Chandler is out indefinitely with a hip injury.
The biggest reason for the Grizzlies’ current slump is turnovers. Memphis has 33 in the last two games. They also scored only 83 against Atlanta and 80 against Phoenix. The turnovers can be fixed, and if they do, Memphis can get back to their winning ways. Despite the altitude of playing in the Mile High City, I like the Grizzlies to win on the road and end their two game slide.