Sometimes a change of scenery is what some players need to rejuvenate their game. Memphis Grizzlies power forward Marreese Speights knows that all too well and aims to build off an impressive outing tonight versus the Denver Nuggets at FedEx Forum.
Speights was acquired from Philadelphia in January and is currently averaging 12.0 points and 11.6 rebounds in his last five games. He had a season-best 20 points and a career-high 18 rebounds in Wednesday's 105-100 victory at New Jersey, helping Memphis to its second straight win and fourth in five tries. The former Florida star has started the last 22 games and hopes to continue to fill the void that injured forward Zach Randolph left when he went down.
Rudy Gay added 25 points, Tony Allen had 21 and Mike Conley posted a double- double with 16 points and 10 assists in the recent win for the Grizzlies, who won on back-to-back nights and are in the midst of playing nine of 11 games at home.
"If you're in a park you play every day, if you're in a tournament in college you play three or four times in a row. So it can be done," said Grizzlies head coach Lionel Hollins, whose team is 10-5 at home. "It's just a matter of letting your body and your will take over for your mind."
Hollins' club is 6-0 when scoring 100 points in a game this season and is the best in the NBA at holding opponents under 100 points (26 games). The only teams to reach the century mark in scoring against Memphis this season are Oklahoma City (twice), Chicago and New Jersey.
Meanwhile, the Nuggets have fallen on hard times recently with eight losses in their last 11 games. They opened a three-game road trip on a sour note with Wednesday's 102-84 drubbing against the defending champion Dallas Mavericks.
"When the score swings by 17 points you're going to be down by a huge deficit going into the fourth," said Harrington, "one that you know you can't make up."
The Nuggets are still playing without leading scorer Danilo Gallinari (ankle), as well as injured bigs Nene (calf) and Timofey Mozgov (ankle). Gallinari and Mozgov are out indefinitely, while Nene is listed as day-to-day.
Denver will close out the road swing Sunday at Oklahoma City and is 8-13 against the West this season. It is 9-0 against the Eastern Conference. The Nuggets suffered a 100-97 overtime loss at Memphis on Jan. 31 this season, as Harrington posted a double-double off the bench, scoring 23 points to go along with 10 rebounds. Marc Gasol and Gay each had 20 points and 13 boards for the Grizzlies, who have lost 14 of the last 18 games in this series.
The Nuggets have played well on Beale Street lately, having won eight of the last 13 road meetings with the Grizzlies since 2004-05, including five of the previous eight.