Memphis (15-11) at Denver (16-11)

Mostly Cloudy Currently: Denver, CO
Temp: 69° F
  • Game info: 9:00 pm EST Mon Dec 22, 2003
Preview | Box Score | Recap

A strong start has made the Memphis Grizzlies and Denver Nuggets two of the season’s early surprises. It would be hard to tell judging by their recent play.

The Grizzlies and Nuggets are both coming off poor efforts, and hope to end their recent struggles when they meet at Pepsi Center.

Denver allowed the Seattle SuperSonics to shoot 50 percent in a 115-106 loss Saturday. Voshon Lenard had seven 3-pointers and 31 points, but he was the only one who didn’t seem to be tired after a last-second loss to the Los Angeles Lakers on Friday.

“We think we can just outscore people and do our own thing,” Nuggets coach Jeff Bzdelik said. “And so this is what happens.”

It didn’t help that Marcus Camby sat out the second half with a strained lower back and Ryan Bowen didn’t play in the fourth quarter after getting hit with an inadvertent elbow. Their status for Monday’s game is uncertain.

Bowen needed nine stitches and didn’t play in the fourth quarter of Saturday night’s game against Seattle after an inadvertent elbow opened a huge gash on his forehead.

Bowen was injured with about a minute left in the third quarter while scrambling for a rebound with Seattle’s Reggie Evans. He was hit on the head by an elbow. Bowen returned to the bench with nine stitches and a large bandage on his head, but didn’t play.

Memphis lost 94-89 to the New Orleans Hornets on Saturday.

The Grizzlies had been trying to go six games over .500 for the first time in franchise history.

Bonzi Wells came off the bench to lead Memphis with 18 points, including a 3-pointer and a finger roll that helped Memphis get as close as 76-72 early in the final period.

The Grizzlies played their best with their reserves on the floor, as the subs outscored New Orleans’ reserves 50-17.

Stromile Swift had 12 points and 11 rebounds in a reserve role, recording his sixth straight double-double for Memphis, while Jason Williams scored 11 coming off the bench. Pau Gasol led the Grizzlies’ starters with 12 points.

“This is a team that has two teams,” Wells said. “If our first unit is down we’ve got to come pick them up and vice versa.”

Memphis starter Lorenzen Wright, still in pain from a lower right leg injury suffered in the previous night’s victory over Miami, sat out the second half. His status for Monday’s game is uncertain.

STANDINGS (through Dec. 20): Grizzlies - 4th place (tied), 2 1/2 GB, Midwest Division. Nuggets - 3rd place, 2 GB, Midwest Division.

PROBABLE STARTERS: Grizzlies - F James Posey, F Gasol, C Wright, G Earl Watson, G Mike Miller. Nuggets - F Carmelo Anthony, F Nene, C Camby, G Lenard, G Andre Miller.

TEAM LEADERS: Grizzlies - Gasol, 16.8 ppg and 8.2 rpg; Williams, 6.9 apg. Nuggets - Anthony, 18.5 ppg; Camby, 9.6 rpg; Miller, 5.9 apg.

2002-03 SEASON SERIES: 2-2.

LAST MEETING: March 5; Grizzlies, 96-86. At Memphis, Tenn., Swift had 24 points and 10 rebounds to lead the Grizzlies.

ROAD/HOME RECORDS: Grizzlies - 6-8 on the road; Nuggets - 10-3 at home.

INJURIES: Grizzlies - G Dahntay Jones (Achilles’); F Theron Smith (back); F Ryan Humphrey (concussion); C Wright (leg). Nuggets - F Mark Pope (knee); G Jeff Trepagnier (ankle); C Camby (back); F Bowen (head).

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