Locked in a tight game early in the fourth quarter Friday night, the Denver Nuggets used a 12-2 run to break it open and went on to beat the visiting Memphis Grizzlies 87-78 at Pepsi Center.
Will Barton led the way for the Nuggets with 17 points, while Trey Lyles came off the bench to net 16. Nikola Jokic added 14 points and Jamal Murry was good for 11 as Denver, which lost at home Wednesday night to the lowly Atlanta Hawks, avoided another defeat to one of the NBA’s worst teams.
Marc Gasol scored a game-high 22 points and grabbed 11 rebounds for Memphis, but he didn’t get a lot of help. Only two other teammates managed to join him in double figures, as Tyreke Evans and James Ennis each tallied 12.
Leading 67-64 after Evans canned a driving layup with 9:57 left in the game, the Nuggets put it away. Six different players each scored two points in the run, which ended with 6:15 remaining as Mason Plumlee dunked for a 13-point lead.
Memphis got off to a quick start, leading nearly the entire first half. The Grizzlies established a 23-8 advantage at the 3:33 mark of the first quarter when Gasol converted a three-point play, and they took a 26-16 margin to the second quarter following a 3-pointer from Mario Chalmers.
Denver worked its way back into the game in the second period, starting it with a 15-6 spurt. When Murray canned a step-back jumper at the 6:29 mark, the Nuggets were within 32-31. The Grizzlies regained some traction after that, taking a 47-43 lead to the locker room.
However, Denver clamped down defensively in the third quarter, permitting just 13 points and taking the lead for good on two free throws by Jokic with 5:06 remaining. The Nuggets took a 67-60 edge to the fourth period.
Memphis outscored Denver by six points from the field, but the Nuggets won this one at the foul line. They were 26 of 32 on free throws as opposed to the Grizzlies’ 11 of 14.