We got a Joakim Noah sighting early tonight, after Marc Gasol got two fouls in the first five minutes of the game. Over the first 9 minutes of the first the Nuggets went 0-for-4 from two but still led 20-12 on 5-of-10 shooting from long range. From there it was “The Marshon Brooks Show” as he scored the next eight for the Grizzlies to make it a 26-22 Nuggets lead after the first quarter. Nikola Jokic was the only player to outdo Brooks in the first, leading all scorers with 11.
Memphis continued the hot streak into the second, tying the game up at 26 before a Trey Lyles dunk ended the 8-0 run going back into the first. After trading several baskets, Denver went on a 5-0 run of their own to give them a 39-35 lead and forcing a Grizzlies timeout. Denver started to dominate down low and built up to eight point lead, before a Kyle Anderson three made it 55-50 at the half. Jokic added another eight points in the second to give him 19 for the half to lead all scorers at that point.
Denver outscored the Grizzlies 22-12 in the paint in the first half, taking it straight to the Grizzlies big men, including Marc Gasol, who was 0-for-2 in the half. In the first half. Jokic single-handedly outscored the entire Grizzlies starting lineup 19-17. Shelvin Mack was the only Grizzly in double figures through two, with 10 points off the bench. The entire Grizzlies bench is what kept them in the game, besting Denver 33-17 in the first half.
Denver spent the first few minutes maintaining their five point lead, until a Jaren Jackson Jr. block on Mason Plumlee led to a Gasol jumper to make it a 61-60 Nuggets lead. On the Grizzlies next offensive possession, which followed a Denver turnover, Mike Conley drilled a three to give Memphis their first lead since the Grizzlies led 4-3. Before a Nuggets timeout, Memphis went on an 18-6 run to give themselves a 72-65 lead. At this point, Conley disappeared down the tunnel to the Grizzlies locker room with an undisclosed injury. Denver quickly took advantage by going on an 11-2 run of their own to go up 76-74 with around 4:00 left in the third. Conley would return, and the teams would trade the lead until the end of the third which saw the Nuggets go into the fourth with an 84-83 lead.
Over the first four minutes of the fourth quarter, the Grizzlies outscored Denver by the slim margin of 5-3 for a one-point lead. It turned into a defensive battle over the next four with both teams missing several shots until Denver put together an 8-2 run to make it 96-90, Denver. A Conley three-point play cut the Denver lead to 98-97. Memphis got a couple big stops, but a few empty Grizzlies possessions later, and Denver scored on two straight possessions to take a 102-97 lead. That Conley free throw at 3:44 was the last point the Grizzlies scored until a JaMychal Green layup with :32 left in the game.
Conley led the Grizzlies with 19 points, while Mack, Green, and Omri Casspi all scored in double figures off the bench. Jokic had a game-high 27 points and 12 rebounds for Denver, while Monte Morris added 20 off the bench.
The Grizzlies fall to 15-11 on the season and are in action next on Wednesday at FedExForum against CJ McCollum, Damian Lillard, and the Portland Trail Blazers.
- Marshon Brooks scored eight points in the last couple minutes of the first quarter, which were the only points and only shots he took in the game. After playing about six minutes in the first, Brooks played 1:43 of the second quarter and sat the rest of the game.
- The Grizzlies bench dominated the Nuggets bench 51-36.
- The Nuggets dominated down low, winning the rebounding battle 40-34 and outscored the Grizzlies in the paint 54-48.