Grizzlies 109, Nuggets 106

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MEMPHIS, Tenn. (AP)—Shane Battier is not supposed to be a jumper. He got high enough to turn back Carmelo Anthony on a big play.

Battier’s block of Anthony’s putback attempt with 7 seconds left Monday night preserved the Memphis Grizzlies’ 109-106 victory over the Denver Nuggets in a matchup of two of the NBA’s most improved teams.

Battier’s rejection prevented Denver from taking the lead. James Posey, who keyed Memphis’ fourth-quarter rally with 13 of his 20 points, grabbed the blocked shot, was fouled and converted the free throws to seal the Grizzlies’ fifth straight victory.

“The shot went up, and I turned to look for (Anthony) and all of a sudden he had the ball,” Battier said. “I just tried to react and jump in his direction. Luckily, I got up high enough to get a piece of the shot.”

Denver took a 106-102 lead with 1:22 left. But the Grizzlies scored the game’s final seven points—five by Posey—to send the Nuggets to their second three-game losing streak of the season.

“For us to win this game, down by four at the end, we played almost perfect,” Memphis coach Hubie Brown said. “Whenever you overcome a team that gets 23 offensive rebounds and gets to the line 40 times and then you don’t play your best game, you have to be happy with your team.”

Pau Gasol led Memphis with 25 points, and Bonzi Wells finished with 17. Battier and Jason Williams had 10 each, and Williams added eight assists. Gasol’s layup off Battier’s feed with 27 seconds left gave Memphis the lead for good. Gasol and Posey combined for 24 of the Grizzlies’ 29 fourth-quarter points.

“When Pau got that layup at the end, it just sucked the air out of us,” Anthony said.

Anthony scored 16 of his 26 points in the second half, but again struggled from the field, hitting only nine of 25 shots. He added 14 rebounds.

Voshon Lenard scored 21 for Denver, all in the first half. Marcus Camby had 15 points and 18 rebounds, and Andre Miller scored 12.

Memphis shot 60 percent in the first half and held a 57-49 lead at the break.

There were six lead changes and four ties in the fourth. The play was intense, and at times rough.

“This felt like a playoff game,” Anthony said. “Like Game 1 of a seven-game series.”

Camby fouled out with 3:34 left, getting five fouls in a 5:06 span.

“It was definitely intense,” he said. “I’m physically drained. … It was very physical.”

Denver pushed the ball up the floor, at times beating the Grizzlies back down the court after Memphis baskets. But the Nuggets shot 32 percent in the fourth quarter and 43 percent for the game, while Memphis made 50 percent from the field.

“Throughout the course of the game, I think we missed some opportunities to finish around the rim,” Denver coach Jeff Bzdelik said. “Those kinds ofopportunities to score are critical in a hard-fought basketball game.”

Notes

Gasol left in the second quarter after taking an elbow to the nose from Nene. Gasol was taken to the locker room with a nasal fracture, but returned later in the quarter. … Nene, a 68 percent free throw shooter, missed all five shots from the line. … Camby got his 14th double-double of the season and third in a row. … It was Anthony’s 10th double-double of the season. … Memphis C Stromile Swift, who left Saturday’s game against the Bulls with an ankle injury, played 13 minutes. … The home team has won the last 10 meetings. … Memphis is 23-1 when leading after three quarters, 21-1 whenscoring 100 points and 9-0 when shooting at least 50 percent.

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Top Performers

 Top Performers
 Denver
C. Anthony C. Anthony
9-25,  26 Pts
14 Rebs, 0 Assists
 Memphis
P. Gasol P. Gasol
7-13,  25 Pts
7 Rebs, 2 Assists

Team Stat Leaders

Points
Rebounds
Assists