He hadn’t worn a Nuggets jersey in nearly nine years, but Chauncey Billups fit right in on Friday as Denver snapped a two-game losing streak.
Coming off their first road win of the season, the Memphis Grizzlies are looking to end the Billups’ homecoming celebration on Sunday night.
After being acquired from Detroit earlier in the week for Allen Iverson, Billups had 15 points, four rebounds and three assists in Denver’s 108-105 win over Dallas.
“It feels great to be home,” said Billups, a Denver native who’s averaging 22.0 points and 8.8 assists in his last six games - all wins - against Memphis.
Billups missed 12 of 17 shots against the Mavericks and admitted to being winded from the thin Denver air, but after watching Carmelo Anthony’s 28-point, eight-rebound, six-assist outing, he is optimistic that the Nuggets (2-3) can be a competitive Western Conference team.
“Melo, of course, is pretty much unstoppable,” Billups said of Anthony, who hit all 14 free-throw attempts against Dallas, including four in the final 12 seconds. “We’ve got a lot of weapons. I think if we can lock in and get everyone on the same page we can be dangerous.”
Anthony is averaging 24.3 points in 17 career games versus the Grizzlies, helping Denver to a 12-5 record in those contests.
Memphis (3-3) will try to win back-to-back games for the first time this season after beating Golden State 109-104 on Friday for its first road win of 2008-09.
O.J. Mayo continued his impressive rookie season with 20 points and nine rebounds after scoring 28 at Sacramento on Wednesday. Mayo is playing nearly 40 minutes per game and averaging 17.3 points - the league’s second-highest scoring rookie behind Chicago’s Derrick Rose (17.7).
“At the end of the day it’s just basketball,” Mayo said. “There are a lot of good players at this level but the rims are the same height, the court is the same length and it’s still 5-on-5. It’s a big deal but I’m pretty comfortable.”
Memphis forward Rudy Gay also appears to be comfortable.
Gay scored a team-high 23 points, including six in the third as Memphis - the NBA’s 28th-ranked scoring team at 89.5 points per game - outscored the Warriors 33-24.
“When we did that, everybody was scoring, everybody was getting dunks and we were playing freely,” Gay said. “When we play more hesitant (we struggle). We played free and we got that lead and it was easy to score.”
Hakim Warrick had his first double-double of the season with 19 points and 10 rebounds against Golden State, and Darrell Arthur added 13 points and 12 rebounds. Arthur (8.0) and teammate Marc Gasol (8.8) are the league’s top two rebounding rookies.
Denver went 4-0 against Memphis in 2007-08, scoring 120 points in each of the last two meetings. The Nuggets are 20-1 in their last 21 home games against the Grizzlies.