Nuggets recover from two-game skid after coming home from five-game road trip.
The Denver Nuggets (18-9) regrouped and beat the Memphis Grizzlies (15-11) 105-99 Monday night. Nikola Jokic led the way with a 27 point and 12 rebound double-double, but Monte Morris was the spark with 20 points off the bench. Mike Conley led the Grizzlies with 19 points of his own.
The big story coming into the game, other than the arrival of Swaggy P, was what the starting lineup would be with the Nuggets down three starters. The Nuggets stuck with Hernangomez and Craig, but replaced the recently injured Paul Millsap with Mason Plumlee and the twin tower lineup.
In the first quarter the Nuggets put on a show from the 3-point line, showcasing their depth and getting everyone involved. Five different Nuggets hit a 3-pointer in the quarter, including this wild bounce from Monte Morris.
The play sparked a mini-run for the Nuggets in the first quarter to put the Nuggets up by eight. The Nuggets ended up winning the first quarter in large part because of their 3-point shooting, but the second quarter was a different story.
In the quarter, the Nuggets almost exclusively operated in the paint, scoring nine of their 11 makes inside the paint. The Nuggets half-court offense was fairly successful against a Memphis team that wants to slow you down, but the Nuggets made sure they still pushed the ball in transition on their way to holding a halftime lead.
The Nuggets lead quickly vanished because the Nuggets came out with a lack of energy and an inability to effectively rotate on defense on multiple consecutive possessions, leading to a 22-8 Memphis run.
When Monte Morris and the bench came in there was an immediately noticeable change of the energy on the court. The rotations were crisp leading to a Morris steal and coast to coast transition. The Morris substitution led Denver to a 11-2 of their own.
The turnovers really started to bite the Nuggets in the fourth quarter as Memphis sparked another run. Fortunately, Monte Morris settled the game and scored his 20th point. That was just before Juancho Hernangomez finally got his game going by knocking down the huge open corner-three.
It was the Nuggets defense that held strong down the stretch, holding Memphis scoreless for almost all of the final three minutes of the game. Jamal Murray capitalized off the defensive stops with some smooth finishes around the rim.
The win proves that, despite the injuries, the Nuggets just needed to come home and regroup to figure out how to survive the next month of banged up basketball. If they can take advantage of most of their home games like they did tonight, they should be just fine.