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The Denver Nuggets and Memphis Grizzlies traded early buckets, but the Nuggets quickly ran around the rim with quality shots while the Grizzlies struggled on the other end to take an early 11-2 lead. Coming out of a Memphis timeout, the Grizzlies scored, but the Nuggets answered with four buckets of their own and their lead was 20-6 midway through the first quarter. Denver’s lead grew to 15 points as Aaron Gordon did the work as he had nine points in his first eight minutes on the floor. The Nuggets were getting some great bench shots in the first quarter when Nikola Jokic left the court. Their lead was up to 21 points after a deep triple from Bones Hyland. The Nuggets were 3-of-4 from 3-point range and the Grizzlies were 0-of-6 from downtown as Denver led 35-14 in the second quarter.

With 22 seconds to go in the second quarter, Jeff Green threw down a big dunk that forced the Grizzlies to use their third timeout of the game with under 13 minutes to play. The Nuggets were getting fairly favorable whistles early, and Memphis coach Taylor Jenkins let the refs know before being called for a technical foul. After building that big lead, the bench allowed Memphis to start creeping back a little, with Ja Morant now down 16. 17 minutes into the game, the Nuggets made 17 free throws compared to Memphis’ 1, but Denver was just 9 of 17 on the charity drive. They led 43-26 midway through the second. The Nuggets offense stagnated for four minutes in the quarter as the Grizzlies slowly began to claw their way back into the game. Memphis was up by 14, but Denver’s defense was doing enough to keep them at bay. Morant’s triple at the buzzer gave the Nuggets a 55-40 lead heading into halftime.

The Grizzlies started the second half with a run and the two sides traded baskets as Memphis was within single digits before Jokic’s triple forced a timeout. Denver steadily rebuilt that lead, culminating in a big 3-pointer by Christian Brown for a 20-point lead with just under four minutes left in the quarter. Jokic was doing his best to put the Nuggets on the ice this game. , but Morant wasn’t going down without a fight for nearly 20 points in the third quarter. Denver led 84-71 entering the final quarter.

A little over a minute into the fourth quarter, the Grizzlies were riding a 16-6 run that started in the third period and scored 10 points. Even with Jokic back in the game for Denver, their offense struggled to score points on the offensive end. Plus, the Grizzlies were back within eight, the closest they’ve been since the first quarter, before Gordon’s five-point outburst made it back to double digits. Gordon added another basket to extend their lead to 15 with 4:30 remaining. Under-16 Gordon put the icing on the cake with just under two minutes remaining with a reverse knife off a cross from Jokic. It was a win on both ends for the Nuggets, but particularly a defensive one. The Grizzlies were sixth in points per game and on track to be held under 100 points for just the third time all season. Coming out of the timeout, the Grizzlies had emptied the bench, and they were refusing the white flag for this loss. The Nuggets would win 105-91.

Stat Leaders

Points: Aaron Gordon – 24:00

It helps. Nikola Jokic – 13:00

Reflections. Selector – 13:00

Game player. Nikola Jokic – 13 points, 13 assists, 13 rebounds, 6-of-12 field goals, 1-of-1 3-pointers, 0-of-1 free throws

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