Nelson Chenault-USA TODAY Sports
A road-weary Nuggets squad never could seem to get on track tonight. The Nuggets fall in the last game of 2012 to the Memphis Grizzlies, and Ty Lawson appears to have aggravated a lingering left Achilles injury. Nuggets fall 81-72 and are now 2-1 on the year against the Grizzlies, with a final game to be played at the Pepsi Center.
That was one of the ugliest games of basketball I've ever watched.
There were more bricks in this game than Arundel Castle. The Nuggets and Grizzlies sluggish performance netted them a grand total of 73 points in the first half - combined. The lethargy of the Nuggets' second game of a back to back seemed to infect the Grizzlies, and all night each team played a rough brand of physical, dirty, hacking and grabbing basketball. The Nuggets kept it close until the final few minutes, when the fatigue of their 22nd road game on a back to back away from the Pepsi Center finally caught up to them.
Yet overshadowing another close loss on the road is the injury to Ty Lawson, who exited the game midway through the 4th quarter. His left leg was seen wrapped in ice on the sidelines and he did not re-enter the game. If Ty is out for any significant length of time, that could make the Nuggets' upcoming road stand that much more difficult. Before Ty exited the game, he was just 1-7 from the floor with 3 points, 3 rebounds, 1 assist and 2 turnovers. Ugly.
With the injury to Ty Lawson, Andre Miller seems as though he'll assume the role of starting point guard for the Nuggets until Ty proves he's capable of returning. While this places the Nuggets offense in the lately-unsteady hands of Miller, it also gives an opportunity to promising rookie Evan Fournier to step up and prove he's capable of running this team. Fournier's Manu Ginobili-like play as a sort of combo guard gives the Nuggets another potential outside threat that they've been missing lately. Frankly, Ty Lawson has not been shooting well from outside this season, and I've seen enough of Fournier's smooth stroke at least want to give him the chance for a few games.
All night, the Nuggets' frontcourt was plagued by foul trouble.. Kosta Koufos collected 8 points and 6 rebounds en route to fouling out of the game. Kenneth Faried's impact was also limited due to early foul trouble, pulling down just 4 rebounds and 11 points in his 25 minutes. Almost unbelievably, the team actually outshot the Grizzlies (42.6%-40.4%) but were clearly fatigued and unable to make key hustle plays at the end of the game.
Rudy Gay and Zach Randolph bruised the flatfooted Nuggets tonight for 31 points, shooting 14-31 from the field with 13 rebounds combined. The Nuggets simply wore down and looked like they desperately needed some rest. The Nuggets turned the ball over 16 times, twice as many as the Grizzlies, who turned those 16 careless giveaways into 17 points.
Despite tonight's loss, the Nuggets still carry a 17-15 record into 2013. They'll kick off in the new year 3 days hence against the Los Angeles Clippers, where they'll look to avenge an embarrassing loss to the Clippers earlier in the season.