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Nuggets Immolate Grizzlies 109 - 105

Don't let the final score fool you. The Nuggets ran away with this game.

Justin Ford-USA TODAY Sports

The Grizzlies took on a fired up Nuggets squad with nothing to lose, and couldn't contain them on defense. ZBO returned, and pounded the rock from the block, proving a tough cover for "Eager Kenneth" Faried. With only eight games remaining in the regular season, and only four match-ups against non-playoff teams, the Grizzlies entered a crucial stretch that'll determine whether they can avoid a first round match-up against the Thunder, Warriors, or Spurs. Furthermore, with the Rockets and Jazz turning on the jets at the end of the season, the stumbling Grizzlies risk slipping down a precipitous slope and missing the playoffs altogether. Would that be so bad?

The Nuggets scored easily and often in the first half. Jokic got Denver off to a hot start, raking in rebounds (he matched his career high of 14 tonight), hitting floaters, and even a three. After a close first quarter, the Nuggets caught fire in the second, blazing their way to 75% shooting for the quarter. The Grizzlies looked tired on defense, giving up too much space as Denver killed them on screen-action plays. After struggling mightily in his previous match-ups against Memphis this season, Will Barton was the Nuggets' spark in the second quarter, making frequent trips to the line, hitting threes, and capping off the half with a fancy alley-oop assist.

Zach Randolph did his best to put the Grizzlies on his back this game, notching his thirteenth twenty-point game in the third quarter, and ending the night with 26,  but nobody else showed up to the party. Despite cutting the lead to six mid-way through the third, the game quickly got out of hand. The Nuggets smoked the Grizz from deep, sinking 13 threes to the Grizzlies' five. Memphis got close at the very end, hitting some crazy shots (3-Bo alert!). Xavier Munford's scrappy play and shot-making, in particular, was a unexpected highlight. Poor free throw shooting ultimately shot our poor Grizzlies in the paw, however, as Memphis went 63% from the stripe, leaving ten points on the table.

Tonight was a must-win if our dreams of Grizz vs Clippers 5000 were to occur, but the Grizzlies played slow and sloppy. The Nuggets had no problem decimating the Grizzlies in the paint and from deep, while the Grizzlies notched their fourth game in a row shooting below 70% from the stripe. This loss wasn't exactly a morale booster, and things will only get tougher from here (with maybe the exceptions of Chicago and Orlando). However, as the Grizzlies begin their descent from the fifth seed and possibly beyond the playoff bubble, I'm excited for the high profile upset chances of a Grizz team with less to lose. Up next the Grizzlies take on Toronto for an April Fool's showdown.