Denver (19-8) at Memphis (11-15)

  • Game info: 4:00 pm EST Sun Dec 20, 2009
  • TV: ALT
Preview | Box Score | Recap

After sitting out Denver’s last game due to injury, Chauncey Billups’(notes) status for this contest is uncertain.

It might not make much difference, as Carmelo Anthony(notes) has proven to be capable of carrying the Nuggets by himself against the Memphis Grizzlies.

Anthony looks to lead Northwest Division-leading Denver to a ninth straight win over the Grizzlies as they meet Sunday at FedEx Forum.

Billups got hurt in the second half of Wednesday’s 111-101 win over Houston, and underwent a precautionary MRI on Thursday that confirmed a strain of his left adductor muscle. The Nuggets (19-8) listed the four-time All-Star point guard as day-to-day, and he missed Friday’s 98-92 loss at New Orleans.

Anthony Carter(notes) started in place of Billups and Denver’s offense struggled to get in sync, finishing well below its scoring average of 107.7 points—one of the best in the league. Anthony was hounded by the Hornets’ defenders and limited to 17 points after averaging 35.0 points in his previous five games.

“We missed Chauncey, of course,” said Anthony, who failed to reach the 20-point mark for only the second time. “Once they figured out he wasn’t playing, they made it their strategy to keep the ball out of my hands, which turned out to be a good scheme.”

Anthony hopes to bounce back against Memphis (11-15), one of his favorite opponents.

Anthony scored 42 points in a 133-123 win over the Grizzlies on Nov. 1, and is averaging 29.1 points in his last 12 games against them.

The Nuggets, who are 18-5 against Memphis since Anthony’s rookie season in 2003-04, have won eight straight over the Grizzlies, the team’s longest active winning streak over a single opponent.

Billups, acquired from Detroit last season, has played in Denver’s last four games against Memphis. He finished with 22 points and a season-high 12 assists in the November meeting.

The Grizzlies, who haven’t defeated the Nuggets since a 133-118 win on April 14, 2007, are coming off Friday’s 107-94 victory over Indiana

All five starters scored in double figures for Memphis, with Zach Randolph(notes) leading the way with 26 points and 16 rebounds.

Randolph, acquired in an off-season trade with the Los Angeles Clippers, is becoming a major force for the emerging Grizzlies. The 6-foot-9 forward is averaging 20.6 points and 12.4 boards in his last seven games, with Memphis winning four of those contests.

“There are too many words to describe what he’s meant to this team so far,” guard Mike Conley(notes) said of Randolph. “He’s been an energy guy, a guy who’s been a leader for this team and a veteran. Going out and putting in the work he’s been doing on and off the court has been amazing.”

Randolph didn’t have as much success against the Nuggets earlier this season, finishing with 12 points and six rebounds. O.J. Mayo(notes) carried the Grizzlies in that game, scoring a career-high 40.

In four career games against the Nuggets, Mayo is averaging 26.5 points, his highest-scoring average against any opponent.

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Sunday, Dec 20