MEMPHIS, Tenn. -- Welcome back, Rudy Gay.
The Grizzlies' forward, who missed Wednesday's loss to 76ers because he was grounded out of town by inclement weather, scored eight points in a late 10-0 run to push Memphis past the Denver Nuggets 81-72 Saturday night at FedEx Forum.
It was just enough burst for the Grizzlies (19-8) to overcome a horrific shooting night -- 40.3 percent from the field, 26.3 from the three-point line and 57.1 from the free throw line.
But the Nuggets (17-15) were almost as bad: 42.6 percent from the field, 18.8 from three and 61.1 at the free throw line.
In short, it was a great night for rebounders, not shooters, though Memphis backup forward Marreese Speights was the only player rebounding in double figures with 10.
Zach Randolph was the only other Memphis player besides Gay to score in double figures, hitting 12 points. Four Nuggets were in double figures, with Andre Iguodala, Corey Brewer and JaVale McGee scoring 12 each.
The Grizzlies led 37-36 after a first half in which neither team looked interested in playing.
The fact that Memphis had the lead was a bit amazing, considering the Nuggets destroyed the Grizzlies in the paint, outscoring them 28-8. Also, the Griz had one free throw attempt.
Things looked bleak at the end of the third when swingman Quincy Pondexter was carried off the floor in the final seconds of the period after teammate Wayne Ellington fell into his leg. Pondexter was blocking out on a free throw attempt. The early diagnosis is a sprained left knee, and an MRI is set for Sunday.
The Grizzlies finally showed some spark early in the fourth quarter, especially when little-used backup center Hamed Haddadi flushed a left-handed dunk. It ignited the restless home crowd that hadn't been happy with the Grizzlies' uneven play.
NOTES: Gay missed Wednesday's game because he had gone home to Baltimore to visit his family, including an ailing grandmother who was influential in raising him. Gay was given permission to leave for Baltimore after the Grizzlies returned to Memphis from Houston late Saturday night. He also was excused from practice Monday afternoon but was expected to return to Memphis in time for the team's shootaround Wednesday morning. "It was a bad travel day," Gay said. ... The only team to beat Memphis twice this season is the Nuggets, with wins in Memphis on Nov. 19 (97-92) and in Denver on Dec. 14 (99-96).