DENVER -- The Denver Nuggets couldn't win with their style, but they figured out how to beat the Memphis playing the Grizzlies' way.
Kosta Koufos scored 18 points and grabbed a career-high 16 rebounds, and the Nuggets survived their worst offensive performance since December to beat the Grizzlies 87-80 Friday night.
Danilo Gallinari added 15 points, including a key late jumper, to help the Nuggets win their 11th straight overall and 15th in a row at home. The 87 points were the fewest Denver has scored since losing 81-72 to Memphis on Dec. 29.
The Nuggets (45-22) had scored more than 100 points in 11 straight games before Friday. They knew the Grizzlies would slow them down, which Memphis did, holding them to 68 points through three quarters.
"The mental aspect of winning this game, it's a big step," Nuggets coach George Karl said. "Tonight's game was a man's game. We didn't have anybody playing at a high level, skill-wise, and it was a game you won because of heart and toughness and gut."
Denver pulled it out with defense, holding Memphis to 33 second-half points.
Zach Randolph had 18 points and 18 rebounds for the Grizzlies, who had their six-game winning streak stopped.
"We had a couple of bad turnovers, they had an offensive rebound under the basket to start the (fourth) quarter," Memphis forward Tayshaun Prince said. "The crowd kind of got into the game when (Kenneth) Faried came in and made some hustle plays. When you have a couple of bad plays, it's all about the timing, and the timing wasn't good."
The Grizzlies and Nuggets came into the game two of the hottest teams outside of the Miami Heat. Memphis climbed into the third spot in the Western Conference standings by winning 11 of 12 -- same as the Nuggets -- so someone had to cool off.
It was the Grizzlies.
Despite being held to their lowest point total in 34 games, the Nuggets won the season series and moved within a half-game of Memphis (44-20) and the idle Los Angeles Clippers (45-21), who are tied for the third and fourth playoff positions.
"We knew the importance of the game," Koufos said. "It was definitely huge."
It didn't look as if the Nuggets would keep their streak going. Denver scored just 10 third-quarter points on 4-of-20 shooting as Memphis took an eight-point lead into the final period.
"Our offense at the beginning of the third, where we turned it over three times and took three (lousy) shots in the first seven possessions, we never found anything offensively," Karl said.
As bad as Denver was in the third, Memphis was worse in the fourth.
The Nuggets ignited the crowd with a 9-0 run to start the last quarter, capped by Andre Iguodala's slam dunk that gave Denver a 67-66 lead.
The Grizzlies' Jerryd Bayless ended the run with a 3-pointer, but a 3-pointer by Gallinari, a layup by Koufos and a jumper by Corey Brewer gave Denver a 75-70 lead.
The game was tied at 78 before Gallinari hit two free throws and Koufos made a jump hook to give Denver a four-point lead with 1:43 left.
"We got away from what we wanted to do," Memphis' Marc Gasol said. "We have to be smarter than that."
Bayless hit two free throws, but Gallinari answered with a jumper. Iguodala sealed the win with a steal and a dunk with 50 seconds left.
"We lost too much pace. We started walking the ball upcourt, and they were attacking us," Memphis coach Lionel Hollins said. "The turnovers and missed layups kept us from executing offensively."
NOTES: The Nuggets are third in the league in scoring at 106 points a game. Memphis is tops in the NBA in scoring defense, allowing 89.4 points. ... The Grizzlies have played well after trading away Rudy Gay, then the team's leading scorer, on Jan. 30. They have seamlessly integrated Prince into the starting lineup. "You go back to when (Gay) was injured a couple of years ago and we traded for Shane Battier. Tayshaun Prince is our Shane Battier," Hollins said. "It's not like we added a young guy we have to bring along and teach; he's won on every level. That's helped us be stable." Prince scored 11 points Friday. ... The Nuggets last won 11 straight 30 years ago to the day -- March 15, 1983. ... The Grizzlies are in the middle of playing five back-to-backs in March. They travel to Utah on Saturday.