MEMPHIS, Tenn. -- The Memphis Grizzlies have been the talk of the NBA in the opening weeks of the season, with ferocious defense, tenacious rebounding and deep bench play leading to a franchise-tying eight-game win streak.
The streak is over, though, because the Denver Nuggets did all of the above in a 97-92 victory over the Grizzlies Monday night at the FedExForum.
The Nuggets held a 47-33 edge in rebounding, and that was connected to a 34-23 advantage in bench scoring. Down the stretch when Denver needed a play inside, backup center JaVale McGee came through. He had 13 of his 15 points in the second half and also grabbed 11 rebounds.
The Nuggets (4-7) were led by Danilo Gallinari, who scored 26 points. Kenneth Faried was the only other starter in double figures with 13.
Gallinari made two huge plays in the game's final 90 seconds, making a steal and eventually converting it for a three-point shot and a four-point Denver lead.
Memphis (8-2), losing for the first time since its season opener at Los Angeles against the Clippers, was led by Rudy Gay's 22 points. Zach Randolph had another double-double with 12 points and 13 rebounds.
The Grizzlies never could pull away from the Nuggets, even after Memphis opened the second half on a 12-4 run that erased a three-point halftime deficit.
Griz point guard Mike Conley's ball distribution was a key. He had four assists in the third quarter, finally able to shake loose from the defensive shackles of Denver's Ty Lawson.
Yet just as it seemed the Griz might get some breathing room, Denver reeled Memphis back in. The Nuggets did it with some nifty inside play, especially on the offensive end from McGee who scored eight points in the period.
With the Griz leading 70-69 heading into the final quarter, a flurry of Memphis turnovers led to a 6-0 Denver run in the period's first two minutes. But when Gay re-entered the game shortly thereafter, the Memphis energy changed.
The Nuggets forged a 52-49 halftime lead, with Gallinari proving to be the toughest matchup for the Grizzlies. Gallinari scored 15 points in 5-of-6 shooting, and drew three first half fouls from Griz forward Rudy Gay.
Thanks to pesky defensive play from Lawson, the Grizzlies found it difficult to get quickly into their offensive sets. It led to too many undesired shots taken late in the shot clock, and it kept the Grizzlies from pulling away when they began runs causing turnovers that led to transition baskets.
As has been the case in almost every Griz game so far, the Memphis' bench did provide a spark, with Quincy Pondexter, Wayne Ellington and Marreese Speights combining for 16 points. But Denver's bench countered with 16 points of its own, leaving the game with a one-possession difference at the break.
Memphis largest' lead in the first half was four points at 45-41 with 4:20 left after Gay hit back-to-back outside jumpers, including a three-pointer. The Nuggets responded with an 8-0 run with Gallinari scoring six of the points.
Notes: Randolph was fined $25,000 by the NBA on Monday for trying to confront Oklahoma City's Kendrick Perkins outside the OKC locker room following last Wednesday's game in Oklahoma City. Randolph and Perkins were thrown out of the game for an on-the-court skirmish. . .Monday's game is the start of a five-game homestand for the Grizzlies. They don't play again until Friday when the Lakers visit FedExForum.