Originally posted on Pro Sports Daily  |  Last updated 11/20/12
MEMPHIS, Tenn. -- Ty Lawson knew the Memphis Grizzlies had the NBA's best record and that the Grizzlies had been doing things early in the season they'd never done before, such as dropping in 3-pointers like layups. However, the true motivation for the Nuggets guard Monday night was to beat the Grizzlies much the same way Memphis handled Denver recently. "The last couple years when we come down here, they outworked us, they beat us up a bit," Lawson said. "We made it a point this time to make sure it didn't happen." Lawson and his teammates achieved that goal, escaping Memphis with a 97-92 victory that snapped the Grizzlies' franchise-record-tying, eight-game winning streak. Denver forward Danilo Gallinari scored a season-high 26 points, including a clutch 3-pointer with 12.7 seconds left that gave the Nuggets a 96-92 lead. Memphis, which prides itself on blue-collar basketball, faced a physical battle. The Nuggets, the NBA's best rebounding team, dominated the Grizzlies 47-33 on the boards, grabbing 21 offensive rebounds. There were times that the Grizzlies, even with Zach Randolph and Marc Gasol throwing around their weight inside, simply couldn't grab an offensive rebound. On the other end, Denver forward Kenneth Faried kept plays alive, finishing with 13 points and 13 rebounds, including seven offensive boards. Nuggets reserve forward JaVale McGee added 15 points and eight rebounds, including five offensive rebounds. "You have to physically compete with those guys on every possession," Nuggets coach George Karl said of the Grizzlies. "They beat you up with their defensive presence, they attack the ball, they grind you all over the court. I'm not sure we won the physicality of the game, but we didn't lose it, either." The Nuggets were able to do what both of last year's NBA finalists -- the Miami Heat and Oklahoma City Thunder -- couldn't do in losing to the Grizzlies last week. Denver guarded the 3-point arc (Memphis was just 6-for-17) and hounded Grizzlies point guard Mike Conley so he couldn't easily get his team into its offensive sets. Memphis, losing for the first time since its season opener at Los Angeles against the Clippers, trailed 52-49 at the half. The Grizzlies (8-2) fell behind 70-64 with 1:06 left in the third quarter, and a 13-0 Denver run put Memphis in a 79-72 hole with 9:34 left. The Grizzlies, using their chaotic, clawing defense, roared back for 92-88 lead with 2:14 left on a Randolph layup. However, Memphis didn't score again, as the Nuggets (5-6) closed the game with nine straight points. "We gave up 21 offensive rebounds, 20 second-chance points, and we shot 17 3s," Grizzlies coach Lionel Hollins said. "That's a recipe for getting beat, and we got beat. We didn't play with effort. We didn't share the basketball. We tried to do too much by ourselves, and it killed us." The Grizzlies were especially disturbed that the Nuggets, particularly Faried, outworked Memphis' inside players. The 6-foot-8 Faried celebrated his 23rd birthday by successfully wrestling the Grizzlies' 31-year-old Randolph to a near statistical draw in points and rebounds. Randolph produced 12 points and 13 rebounds. "It's fun (going against) Randolph because you learn a lot, like learning how to position more, not having to jump for every rebound, pushing people a bit and getting away with it like he does," said Faried, the NBA's leading offensive rebounder. "But it's not fun trying to box him out, because he's physical and he just keeps hitting you." Memphis also couldn't get defensive stops at key junctures when it could have pulled away. "We have to play hard to win games," Conley said, "and we're not good enough to come out, be casual, make a shot, don't run back and don't rebound. We could have played tougher all around, but we didn't." NOTES: Randolph was fined $25,000 by the NBA on Monday for trying to confront Oklahoma City's Kendrick Perkins outside the Thunder locker room following last Wednesday's game. Randolph and Perkins were thrown out of the game for an on-the-court skirmish. ... Monday's game marked the start of a five-game homestand for the Grizzlies. They don't play again until Friday, when the Lakers visit FedExForum. "It's huge to have some extra rest before the Lakers," Hollins said. "We've played some tough games in the last week, and maybe we were due for a letdown energy and effort-wise." ... The Denver win also snapped the Grizzlies' 15-game home regular-season winning streak. ... Memphis, which forced 17 Denver turnovers, has forced at least 10 turnovers in 114 consecutive games, the longest active streak in the NBA.
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