Grizzlies aim to finish road trip on high note vs. Nuggets

NBA Basketball

The Memphis Grizzlies look to conclude a successful seven-game road trip with a victory against the Denver Nuggets on Monday.

Memphis posted a pair of wins over Portland and has a quick turnaround in facing the Nuggets. The matchup comes exactly a week after Denver’s 139-137 double-overtime win over the Grizzlies.

Memphis dropped a 117-105 decision to the Los Angeles Clippers on Wednesday before defeating the Trail Blazers in back-to-back games. The Grizzlies won 130-128 on Friday night and 120-113 two days later.

Memphis has a 9-5 record in April and has won four of the first six games on the current trip.

“We know what we’re capable of every night. We’ve just got to go out there with a lot of energy for 48 minutes,” Ja Morant said after Friday’s victory. “Offensively we’re going to score the ball, so as long as we are locked in on the defensive end and get stops we’re going to always put ourselves in a position to win the game.”

The Grizzlies were in a position to win at Denver on April 19 but the Nuggets (39-21) rallied late in regulation and the first overtime to stay alive, and then pulled away in the second extra period.

Things might have been different had Memphis center Jonas Valanciunas played in that game. Valanciunas missed three games with a concussion before returning Sunday against Portland with 21 points and 10 rebounds.

Memphis also welcomed back Jaren Jackson Jr., who made his season debut Wednesday against the Clippers after sitting out following offseason knee surgery. He didn’t play Sunday for injury management.

He scored 15 points in his first game and 23 more on Friday night when he played 25 minutes.

While the Grizzlies are seeing several returns to the lineup, the Nuggets are losing players. Jamal Murray is out after tearing his left ACL two weeks ago and Will Barton sustained a right hamstring injury on Friday that coach Michael Malone said will keep him out for “the foreseeable future.”

Denver has plugged holes with Facundo Campazzo and P.J. Dozier and signed Austin Rivers to a 10-day contract last week.

The Nuggets are always dangerous with Nikola Jokic, who is a candidate for NBA Most Valuable Player award. He had 24 points, 12 assists and eight rebounds in just 29 minutes in Denver’s 129-116 win over Houston on Saturday night.

Jokic is nearly averaging a triple-double (26.2 points, 10.9 rebounds and 8.7 assists per game) and has taken on even more responsibility with Murray sidelined. He said he is not taking on the entire burden and is willing to share the stats with his teammates.

“It’s on everybody, it’s not one person,” Jokic said. “I think I need to be much better, just helping everybody. It’s on everybody, everybody needs to step up, be focused, especially on the defensive end. We’re going to score, when you have momentum, you’re going to score easier.”

–Field Level Media

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