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Recap: Turnovers plague Denver as Memphis hands them 122-118 loss

The two MVP candidates were on display tonight. Morant dropped 38 and Jokic recorded another triple double, but it was not enough to beat the surging Grizzlies

Memphis Grizzlies v Denver Nuggets Photo by Ethan Mito/Clarkson Creative/Getty Images

The Denver Nuggets lose to the Memphis Grizzlies for the third time this season 122-118. This was the first time the Grizzlies beat the Nuggets in Denver since 2017. Ja Morant exploded for 38 points and that is tied for the most points Denver has given up to an individual this season. Nikola Jokic recorded his fourth straight triple double by scoring 26 points, 11 rebounds, and 12 assists on 11-16 shooting. Memphis dominated the paint outscoring Denver 58-48 in that category, but they were also efficient from three as well. They shot 11-25 from beyond the arc and 52.4% shooting overall.

It was understood the Grizzlies are a great rebounding and second chance scoring team and they showed it tonight. They grabbed 13 offensive rebounds and demoralized Denver late with their second chance points. Their interior defense tightened when it needed as they recorded 10 blocks, four by Jaren Jackson Jr. and three by Brandon Clarke. As well as Denver played offensively for several stretches throughout the game, Memphis was much more persistent and they showed they are a contender in the West. The Nuggets move to 23-21 on the season and the 6th seed in the conference. They finish the homestead Sunday against the Detroit Pistons at 6:00 PM.

1st Quarter

  • Memphis grew an early 5-0 lead with a Koncar three and a Morant layup, but the Nuggets would respond with two straight triples from Will Barton
  • Monte Morris sank another three as the Nuggets started 3-4 from beyond the arc. Four of the first five Denver shots were threes but a Gordon put-back gave the Nuggets an 11-9 lead
  • Defense was optional throughout the first half of the quarter. There were eight lead changes, the Nuggets started with 50% shooting and Memphis 72%
  • Bryn Forbes entered the game as the first person off the bench. In his first minute, he knocked down a mid-range jumper for his first shot. Memphis would respond though with another three to gain a 25-21 advantage
  • The Grizzlies obtained great offensive balance in the first. They started 5-5 shooting from three with 12 points in the paint to earn their 28-23 lead
  • A Culver and Melton three would extend the Grizzly lead to 37-28. They hit seven threes in the quarter and when Jokic exited, the only Nugget to score was Bryn Forbes with 7 points

Score: 37-28 Grizzlies

Scoring leaders: Morant - 12, Barton - 8

2nd Quarter

  • Zeke Nnaji opened the quarter with Denver’s first five points. Three came via a corner pocket three and two came from the free throw line. A Jeff Green and-one layup then decreased the Memphis lead to 37-36
  • Three turnovers from the Nugget bench helped Memphis extend a 43-37 lead. Zeke Nnaji continued his good play, being confident and physical inside. Eight of Denver’s first 11 points in the quarter came from Nnaji
  • Memphis’s second chance points demoralized Denver in the second quarter. To the 7:00 mark they had 7 offensive rebounds for 11 second chance points
  • A Williams three combined with a Morant and-one ballooned the Grizzly lead to 54-42. Their three-point shooting remained scorching hot as they were 8-11 from the arc
  • Monte Morris hit his second three of the game along with a layup to dwindle the lead to eight but again Morant would respond with another layup
  • The Nuggets were struggling to score in the paint but they did get to free throw line frequently. They hit 13-16 free throws in the quarter but no matter how tight of defense Denver played, the Grizzlies could not miss
  • A Jokic tip-in plus Morris’s third three helped the Nuggets climb within five at the end of the quarter. Morant then responded with a three of his own, but Joker answered with a three from the parking lot to end the quarter

Score: 68-63 Grizzlies

Scoring leaders: Morant - 23, Morris - 13

3rd Quarter

  • Both teams hit their first two shots to open the half. Morant glided to the rim for two layups while Jokic hit a hook shot and assisted a Green dunk
  • Three Nugget layups and an 8-0 scoring run helped Denver regain the lead at 73-72. Jokic and Barton combined for eight points in the first two minutes of the quarter
  • Denver’s offense erupted early in the third. Jokic hit his second three of the game and your weekly Jeff Green poster dunk came off a Jokic assist to give Denver an 80-76 lead
  • Although Memphis would not relent on the offensive end, they were struggling mightily on the defensive end. Jokic knocked in 11 in the quarter and the role players continued to convert on their open looks
  • Five straight points from De’Anthony Melton tied the game at 89 and appeared to turn the tides for the time being. Following his three, Jokic regained control and assisted a Gordon layup but Memphis kept scoring in the paint
  • Denver’s offense cooled off late in the quarter while Memphis recovered their rhythm. They went on a 14-3 run for over three minutes and captured a 97-91 lead

Score: 98-92 Grizzlies

Scoring leaders: Morant - 36, Jokic - 22

4th Quarter

  • Offensive rebounding helped the Grizzlies acquire a twelve point lead as Denver looked shell shocked. Memphis continued their extended 21-4 run even with Morant on the bench
  • A Zaire Williams transition dunk off a Morris turnover gave Memphis their largest lead at 108-94. Denver tried to start a comeback by scoring in the paint but the Grizzlies rim protection was outstanding with 10 blocks to that point
  • To the 6:50 mark in the quarter, the Grizzlies were yet to record a three-pointer but they scored 34 points in the paint during the second half.
  • Will Barton heated up with 5 straight points including a three to get Denver back within nine at 110-101. They forced a Morant turnover at the other end, but Barton and Morris would turn the ball over in consecutive possessions for Denver
  • Memphis missed four straight free throws to give Denver a chance to cut the lead, but the Nuggets committed four turnovers in four possessions
  • Two layups from Green and Barton along with a Gordon three decreased the lead to 115-108 as they obtained four straight stops on the defensive end
  • Gordon hit his second three of the quarter to facilitate a 10-1 scoring run for the Nuggets. They were within four until Jackson Jr. hit a three with 40 second left
  • The foul game would ensue as the Grizzlies hit their free throws to ice the game

Score: 122-118 Grizzlies

Scoring leaders: Morant - 38, Barton - 27

Stat leaders

Points: Morant - 38

Rebounds: Jokic - 11

Assists: Jokic - 12

Silent hero of the game: Jaren Jackson Jr. - 20 points, 5 rebounds, and 4 blocks on 8-17 shooting and 2-4 from three