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Nuggets-Grizzlies Preview

AP - Sports

The Denver Nuggets were one of the most challenging Western Conference opponents for Memphis during the Grizzlies' best season in franchise history.

The Nuggets are hoping to add to that success and avoid their longest losing streak in nine seasons when they face a below-.500 Grizzlies team for the first time this season Saturday night.

Denver won three of four meetings with a Memphis squad that earned a franchise-best 56 victories in 2012-13 and advanced to the conference finals. Only the Los Angeles Clippers matched that 3-1 mark among West teams.

In their next matchup with the Grizzlies, the Nuggets will face a team struggling to match last season's success.

Memphis (12-16) has dropped 11 of 16 but had won two in a row before a 100-92 loss in Houston on Thursday. The Grizzlies are also 3-9 in their last 12 at home, but the Nuggets have lost five in a row overall.

Denver (14-14) fell behind by double digits early in the second quarter Friday in New Orleans and couldn't recover in a 105-89 defeat. The Nuggets have averaged 90.6 points and shot 39.2 percent during their skid after averaging 102.1 points and shooting 44.9 percent in their first 23 games.

They've also been a little short-handed lately with Kenneth Faried (ankle) and Darrell Arthur (quad) joining JaVale McGee (leg) and Danilo Gallinari (knee) on the injured list. With 22 points, Wilson Chandler was the only player to score more than 16 in Friday's loss.

"We talked about just trying to stay together and pulling for each other," coach Brian Shaw said. "This is our team and we have to play with the guys that we have, regardless of who's out, regardless of the fact that it is a tough stretch for us, losing five in a row."

With 23 points, Memphis' Zach Randolph was the only player to scored more than 12 in Thursday's loss in Houston. He also drew a $25,000 fine for his comments on the officiating after the game.

"It was the refs tonight,'' said Randolph, who received a technical foul late in the game. "Eight against five. The game in the second half, a man was shooting free throws every time. We were out there playing hard, and they were dictating the game. It can't be like that. We are out there playing, too.

"It was horrible refereeing, it was a horrible game they reffed tonight. Awful. They dictated the game. We are out there working as hard as them."

Randolph is averaging 23.3 points and 14.0 rebounds in his last three games, but the Grizzlies remain one of the least productive teams at 93.9 points per contest.

Denver was one of the best Western Conference teams at limiting Randolph's scoring last season, holding him to an average of 13.0 points in the four games. He also scored 13.0 per game in three matchups with Sacramento in 2012-13.

The Nuggets will try to avoid their first six-game skid in one season since Dec. 17-27, 2004. They dropped seven in a row from April 12-Nov. 8, 2006.

Denver will also try to avoid a season-high third straight road defeat. The Nuggets have dropped four of five in Memphis but earned the lone win in their first visit last season, 97-92 on Nov. 19, 2012.

Denver hasn't been under .500 since it was 5-6 on Nov. 21.

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