MEMPHIS, Tenn. — Sometimes the Memphis Grizzlies‘ victories are not the prettiest of affairs.
Friday night was one of those times.
Zach Randolph scored 16 of his 24 points in the second half and Mario Chalmers made a pair of 3-pointers in the final 1:30 to lead the Grizzlies to a 91-84 victory over the Denver Nuggets.
The game was sloppy, with neither team shooting better than 37 per cent. Denver committed 18 turnovers — 10 more than Memphis — and the Grizzlies were 8 of 18 from outside the arc compared to 4 of 19 for the Nuggets.
"Any time you’re going to shoot (37 per cent), it’s going to be tough slogging," Memphis coach Dave Joerger said. "But we only turned the basketball over eight times. We did a good job of taking care of the basketball."
Chalmers, who started for the injured Mike Conley, scored 12 points in the game, eight coming in the last 90 seconds. Chalmers was 3 of 13 from the field, but the closing 3-pointers helped keep Denver at bay.
Jeff Green finished with 16 points, Matt Barnes scored 15 and Marc Gasol had 12 points and five steals. Tony Allen had 10 points and nine rebounds.
"I thought the turnovers were a big part of our demise," Denver coach Michael Malone said. "(The Grizzlies) are sixth in the NBA in steals per game, and we had 18 turnovers that led to 16 points."
Danilo Gallinari had 29 points for Denver, while Darrell Arthur finished with 12 points, all in the second half. Gary Harris scored 11 points as the Nuggets lost for the 10th time in the last 12 games.
The Grizzlies held an 80-78 lead after Arthur’s 17-footer from the baseline with 3:18 left. But Randolph’s 6-foot fadeaway and Chalmers’ first 3-pointer started a 9-2 run for the Grizzlies down the stretch.
"(Randolph) made a big difference," Arthur said. "They went through a stretch where they passed it to him about seven or eight (possessions) in a row. He either got fouled, or he got a bucket."
Memphis squandered a 12-point halftime lead with a lacklustre third quarter. Arthur provided an offensive punch, scoring 10 in the period. Gallinari had nine and Memphis held a 67-66 lead heading into the final frame.
Denver connected on only 3 of 21 shots in the second quarter, and Memphis broke a 37-all tie by scoring the final 12 points of the half for a 49-37 lead.
In the end, it was simply Memphis’ style of game.
"We just kept fighting. Kept playing," Randolph said.
"That’s our team. That’s our personality. We get it in the mud, play inside out and play defence. It’s not pretty. We just play hard."
Nuggets: Arthur started in place of F Kenneth Faried, who missed the game for the birth of his child. … Will Barton, who was averaging 20.1 points in the last 17 games, failed to reach double figures for the third straight game, scoring six, going 3 of 11 from the field.
Grizzlies: The game was the first of a six-game homestand for Memphis, the longest for the team since late 2013. … Conley missed his second game with a sore left Achilles. Courtney Lee also sat out with a left hip contusion. Joerger was suffering from flu-like symptoms. . Memphis held Denver to only seven points in the second quarter, the least of any Memphis opponent for a quarter this season.
Like several other NBA teams, the Nuggets visited St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital on their trip to Memphis. Malone said he first went to the hospital while an assistant with New Orleans. "It was a real powerful moment for me," Malone said. "I said if I ever get a head job, I’ll make sure and bring my team over every season. . It’s important for us as NBA players and coaches to pause, reflect and give thanks and go out of our way to gain perspective."
Gasol was 5 of 17 from the field and is 18 of 60 in the last four games. "I’m going forward and keep being aggressive," Gasol said, adding that as things get better "hopefully, you start making shots. You’ve got to keep being the same player."
Nuggets: Host Charlotte on Sunday
Grizzlies: Host Boston on Sunday