On Saturday night at the Pepsi Center in Denver, the Memphis Grizzlies couldn’t get over the hump after scoring just 11 points in the first quarter against the Nuggets. Denver pulled off the victory 119–110.
The Nuggets improved to 22–9 on the season, while Memphis fell to 12–21. Denver has won eight of its last nine games. The Grizzlies have lost four straight to Denver, overall.
The Nuggets were up by many as 23 points in the first half before the Grizzlies went on a rally to tighten the game. After scoring just 39 points in the first half, Memphis put up 71 points in the second, but it was not enough to overtake Denver.
Nikola Jokic garnered his seventh triple-double of the season, with a season-high 31 points, 10 rebounds, and 10 assists, before fouling out of the game late in the final period. Jokic now has 35 career triple-doubles.
Jokic wasn't pleased about giving up a lot of points to the Grizzlies in the second half. "In the first quarter, they score 11 points and in the fourth, they score 42,” said Jokic. “It’s a huge difference. We have to be focused on closing the halves, closing the quarters, closing the games. The fourth quarter is the time our defense needs to be the best; it wasn't tonight, but we won the game, which is the most important thing."
Denver won the points in the paint battle, 66–58 (+8)
Jaren Jackson Jr. led Memphis with 20 points and four rebounds. Jackson discussed how the Grizzlies were able to get back in the game after being down by 23 points: “A lot of better ball movement and a lot of side-to-side play. When we trust our ball movement and trust our pick-and-rolls, we just have much more action with more rhythm, and everyone gets open looks.”
Jackson also discussed how it was to match up with Jokic. “He’s really strong — he’s really going to cause some problems,” Jackson added. “He’s a really good passer, too. It’s kind of pick your poison with him when he’s hitting the three-ball. You’ve got to make sure you take one thing away and I definitely didn’t do a good job of that tonight. I definitely could have been better. He’s a good player.”
De’Anthony Melton had 17 points and four rebounds off the bench. Ja Morant tallied 16 points and eight assists. Brandon Clarke added 15 points and five assists while going 6-of-8 from the field.
Jonas Valanciunas scored 14 points and 10 rebounds in 24 minutes for his 17th double-double of the season. It’s his fourth game of the season with 14+ points, 10+ rebounds and two made three-pointers.
Grizzlies Head Coach Taylor Jenkins
On what went wrong:
“Obviously, it was a tough first quarter for us. We were not able to get a lot of shots to fall, both layups and threes, during the first quarter and a half. But, I love our resolve. Our guys were great at half-time and making a run to close out the second quarter. We cut it to three at one point in the third. It got back to seven in the 4th quarter and they made a run. So, for our guys to come in here and compete like that and come up short is obviously unfortunate. But, I’m proud of a lot of things we did tonight.”
On fatigue being a factor once the team came back:
“No, I think our guys were competing at a high level. They made the plays down the stretch, so credit to the Nuggets. They had some offensive rebounds that they came away with, and a couple late passes here and there. They also had some big-time shots, but I think our effort was great for 48 minutes.”
The Grizzlies return home to host the Charlotte Hornets in the FedExForum on Sunday night. Tip-off is at 7 pm CST.