(The Sports Xchange) - Zach Randolph scored a team-high 24 points off the bench as the Memphis Grizzlies held off the Denver Nuggets 91-84 victory at FedExForum.
The Nuggets held the lead with 5:54 remaining when Danilo Gallinari (29 points, eight rebounds) made two free throws to put them up 76-74 but the Grizzlies (20-18) closed with a 17-8 run.
“They killed us in the fourth quarter,” said Denver forward Darrell Arthur.
Eight different Nuggets had at least five rebounds but none as many as 10. And despite the rebounding advantage, the Grizzlies and Randolph were more physical.
“You know they’ll hold you, punch you, whatever it is, and you gotta respect that about them,” Denver coach Michael Malone said. “Playing against Zach Randolph, that’s a great learning experience -- big, strong ... we gotta get comfortable with being uncomfortable.”
The second quarter was anything but comfortable as Memphis held Denver to seven points on three-of-21 shooting from the field (14.3 percent).
The Nuggets made six of their 17 turnovers in the second quarter and that flipped a one-point Denver lead after the first quarter to a 49-37 Grizzlies lead at halftime.
“I loved the fact that we were down by 12 at halftime and our energy, our effort, our focus to start the third quarter was great,” Malone said.
The Nuggets erased a 12-point halftime deficit and led by four late in the third quarter before Memphis closed with a 5-0 spurt to carry a 67-66 lead into the fourth.
Denver’s only lead of the fourth quarter lasted just 32 seconds when Randolph’s putback tied the score at 76 with 5:22 to play.
The Nuggets hung in there and were down 82-78 with 2:30 left when Randolph rejected a layup attempt by Jusuf Nurkic. It was Randolph’s third block of the night.
“Got that old grit and grind feeling back,” Randolph said.
Also helping the Grizzlies was Jeff Green, who had 16 points and nine rebounds, and Matt Barnes, who finished with 15 points, seven rebounds and three assists.
The Grizzlies’ Marc Gasol had 12 points with five steals and Mario Chalmers played 40 minutes and contributed 12 points, six rebounds, four assists and four turnovers.
The 6-foot-2, 190-pound Chalmers also mixed things up with 7-foot, 280-pound Nurkic after Randolph’s block and Chalmers and Nurkic each got a technical.
“Mario, he’s not gonna back down,” Randolph said. “He fits in well.”
Editing by Peter Rutherford