After months of struggling with chemistry issues, the Denver Nuggets appear to have hit their stride with the regular season winding down.
The surging Nuggets look to extend their win streak to nine games when they visit the league-worst Memphis Grizzlies on Saturday night.
A December trade for Allen Iverson and a 15-game suspension given to leading scorer Carmelo Anthony had Denver (43-36) in catch-up mode for most of the season’s second half. The Nuggets, though, seem to have recovered nicely.
Their eight-game win streak—the team’s longest since a 10-game run from March 30-April 15, 2005—has helped the team solidify their playoff position.
The Nuggets secured the sixth seed in the Western Conference by rallying from 13 points down in the fourth quarter for a 107-105 win over New Orleans on Friday. The win moved Denver to a season-high seven games over .500.
“A great comeback, the type of game that’s going to help us get prepared for the playoffs,” said Iverson, who had 23 points and seven assists. “We just showed a lot of heart and a lot of execution at the end of the game.”
Anthony scored 31 points and Marcus Camby added 15 points, 11 rebounds and a season-high nine blocks, his third straight game with at least seven blocks. He is averaging 7.7 blocks in that stretch.
While Denver is riding its longest win streak of the year, the Grizzlies (19-60) are trying to avoid matching their longest losing streak of the season, a seven-game slide from Nov. 4-18.
After their 112-100 loss to Sacramento on Tuesday, Memphis is guaranteed to finish the season with the worst record in the NBA. While they’ll have the best odds of winning the draft lottery and the top overall pick, the Grizzlies are anxious to put their dismal season behind them.
“In three games, the season’s over with, and that’s how I look at it,” said guard Chucky Atkins, who had 11 points and 10 assists Tuesday.
The Grizzlies will likely be without two of their top five scorers again on Saturday. Mike Miller, averaging 18.5 points per game, has missed the last nine games with knee tendinitis, and Rudy Gay, fourth among NBA rookies with 11.0 points per game, has missed the last two with an ankle injury.
Memphis will try to snap its losing streak at home, where it has lost five in a row and 10 of its last 11. Denver has won five straight road games.
The Nuggets have beaten Memphis in eight of their last 10 meetings, including two of three this season. Anthony scored 33 points to lead Denver to a 111-107 win in Memphis on Feb. 26.