DENVER (AP) Mike Conley scored 31 points, including 13 in the fourth quarter, and the Memphis Grizzles held off the Denver Nuggets 105-98 on Sunday.
The Grizzlies have now won four straight in Denver – an intriguing run, considering they’re just 9-32 all-time in the Mile High City.
Danilo Gallinari had 24 points as Denver dropped to 0-12 this season when failing to reach the 100-point plateau.
The Grizzlies outscored the Nuggets 21-13 in second-chance points and outrebounded them by a 49-39 margin. What’s more, Memphis finished 22 of 25 from the free throw line.
Before the game, Memphis coach David Fizdale talked about needing someone outside the usual cast to step up down the stretch.
Once again, though, Conley raised his hand – and game. He gave the Grizzlies the lead for good on a pair of free throws with 7:54 remaining, the start of a 7-0 run that gave them some separation.
Nikola Jokic was more assertive after back-to-back shaky performances. He finished with 10 points, 11 rebounds and six assists.
Jokic has indicated he’s feeling drained. Nuggets coach Michael Malone understands, but said everyone in the league is worn out this time of year.
“The great players and the great teams find a way to fight through it and get their second wind and get ready for the postseason,” said Malone, whose team is narrowly holding on to the eighth and final playoff spot in the West. “I hope that’s what our guys can do.”
Nuggets: All five starters scored in double figures. … F Kenneth Faried didn’t play due to a sore lower back. … Denver recalled rookie G Malik Beasley from Sioux Falls of the NBA Development League. He didn’t play Sunday. … C Roy Hibbert was in uniform after being acquired from Milwaukee at the trade deadline. He didn’t get into the game.
Emmanuel Mudiay has dealt with a troublesome back, inconsistent play and now a demotion. Usually a starter since being taken with the seventh overall pick in the 2015 draft, he’s backing up Jamal Murray and Jameer Nelson.
“My message to him is this is not set in stone,” Malone said. “A lot of things can change – continue to work and continue to stay ready.”
Grizzlies: Host Phoenix on Tuesday as Memphis tries to complete the season sweep of the Suns.
Nuggets: Open a two-game road swing Tuesday in Chicago.