The Memphis Grizzlies had a day to think about falling to the lowly Phoenix Suns and will try to put the disappointing loss behind them Friday night against the Denver Nuggets.
The Grizzlies opened a three-game road trip with Wednesday's 82-80 setback against the Suns. After Rudy Gay tied the game with a basket, Suns guard Goran Dragic countered with a scoop shot to put Phoenix ahead for good. There were five lead changes in the fourth quarter.
Gay recorded his second double-double of the season with 21 points and a season-high 11 rebounds, while Zach Randolph posted his NBA-leading 16th double-double with 18 points and 10 boards. Marc Gasol had 15 points and a career high-tying six blocks for Memphis, which has dropped consecutive games for the first time this season and is 2-3 in the past five.
"We were not running our plays. We couldn't score. We were playing decent defense and getting stops but offensively we were not executing," Gasol said. "We were not cutting at the right time, we were passing the ball too late. And it is hard to win when you don't execute."
Gasol's words come as a surprise since Memphis leads the NBA in points allowed per game (90.7) and ranks third in assists allowed per game (19.2). Memphis also has forced opponents into at least 10 turnovers in 123 games in a row.
Memphis led by as many as 11 points in the second quarter and is 5-3 away from home this season. The Grizzlies, whose 14-5 record is the best start in team lore, will close out the road swing Saturday against the Utah Jazz.
The Grizzlies will try to hit the 100-point mark tonight and are undefeated (9-0) when doing so. Randolph can help with that and is averaging 23.3 points and 14.7 rebounds in three games this month. Gay has scored at least 14 points in every game this season, extending his streak to a career-high 22 consecutive games.
Consistency has been an issue lately for the Nuggets, who have alternated wins and losses over the past seven games. They went 2-3 on a five-game road trip and suffered a 108-105 loss at Minnesota the last time out on Wednesday.
Denver had a 29-21 lead after the first quarter, shooting 65 percent over the first 12 minutes, but was outscored in both the second and third quarters. The Nuggets won the final stanza, 35-31, but it wasn't enough. The Nuggets committed 19 turnovers, leading to 27 Minnesota points.
"We played very poorly in the third quarter and that did us in," said Denver head coach George Karl. "They had the big moments and we took too many fouls. Along with all the turnovers, that did us in."
Kenneth Faried led all scorers with 26 points and 14 rebounds for the Nuggets, who will try to push their home winning streak to four games. Danilo Gallinari had 24 and Ty Lawson added 17 points and 11 assists in a losing cause.
The Nuggets will try to hold Memphis under 100 points and are 9-2 this season when accomplishing the feat. They have only played six games at home, going 5-1 in that stretch.
Denver topped Memphis, 97-92, back on Nov. 19 this season and is 13-5 in the past 18 meetings between the Western Conference inhabitants. The Grizzlies have struggled in the Rocky Mountains, losing eight of nine and 25 of the last 27 games as the guest in this matchup.