Nuggets put together strong fourth quarter

DENVER (AP) -- The Memphis Grizzlies began the third quarter
hitting just one of nine shots, but got away with it. They started the
fourth quarter hitting an identical one of nine, and it spelled doom.

Juwan Howard had 26 points and 13 rebounds as the Denver Nuggets
snapped a seven-game losing streak by beating the Grizzlies 93-78 Sunday night.

Chris Whitney added 15 points as Denver handed Memphis its fifth
consecutive defeat.

''We're doing a better job of recognizing who has the hot hand
and getting the ball to him,'' Nuggets coach Jeff Bzdelik said.

Drew Gooden came off the bench to score 16 points for the
Grizzlies, and Pau Gasol had 13 points and 11 rebounds.

The Nuggets outshot Memphis 42 percent to 35 percent and
outrebounded the Grizzlies 55-38, including 15-3 in the final

With the score tied 68-68 after three quarters, Denver scored
the first nine points of the fourth quarter. The Nuggets outscored
Memphis 19-4 over the first 7:25 of the period to forge an 87-72
lead, during which the Grizzlies had their second shooting spasm.

''Our first group fell apart in the third quarter,'' Memphis
coach Hubie Brown said. ''They came out and went 1-for-9.
Fortunately, the other guys regrouped and got it back. So in spite
of not shooting well, the game is still 68-68 at the end of three.

''In the fourth quarter, we go 4-for-14 with seven turnovers.
You cannot do that.''

Brown said the Nuggets ''outhustled us, outmuscled us. They beat
us to every loose ball, and they beat us on our defensive boards.
Not only did Howard have a great night offensively, but he had 13
boards. He just did a terrific job. Their supporting cast did well.
They forced us into a lot of bad, bad stuff.''

Whitney opened the period with a 3-pointer, then added two free
throws. Ryan Bowen hit a baseline jumper, then fed Chris Andersen
for an alley-oop basket.

Denver's Rodney White, scoreless to that point, scored Denver's
next eight points, and Howard's layup capped the spurt.

''We finished it off tonight,'' Howard said. ''We made some
shots, we didn't turn the ball over and we got some stops on the
other end. That was the difference right there, compared to some
other games where we played three great quarters and then collapsed
in the last three minutes.''

Bzdelik agreed.

''We completed a game,'' he said. ''During the losing streak, we
had several leads in the second half, but we couldn't finish.
Tonight we had a big fourth quarter.''

In a tightly played first half, neither team led by more than
seven points.

Vincent Yarbrough's 3-pointer helped the Nuggets jump to a 9-2
lead, but Memphis erased the deficit moments later, using a 9-0 run
to produce a 15-12 lead. Gasol had four points during the spurt,
and Wesley Person made a 3-pointer.

Back-to-back baskets by Donnell Harvey and a 3-pointer by
Whitney put Denver ahead 19-17 before the Grizzlies scored seven
consecutive points. Denver cut the deficit to 26-25 at the end of the
first period.

Howard scored 10 points in the second quarter, including
Denver's last eight, but Memphis took a 49-47 halftime lead.

Mark Blount had a pair of three-point plays for Denver, and
Jason Williams' 3-pointer gave Memphis its biggest lead of the
half, 42-36. After Howard's late flurry put Denver in front 47-45,
Gasol hit a short jumper and Mike Batiste made two free throws.

Denver used an 8-0 run early in the third quarter to take a
57-51 lead, but the Grizzlies countered with seven consecutive points,
all by Earl Watson.

Game notes
Memphis guard Brevin Knight (sprained right wrist) and
center/forward Stromile Swift (sprained right hand) did not play.
... Before the game, the Grizzlies announced Person would not play
because of a bruised left kneecap, but he played 27 minutes and
scored five points. Person played in the defeat against the Knicks on Friday after missing the previous four games with a broken right index
finger. ... The Nuggets beat the Grizzlies for the 11th consecutive time. They are 14-2 at home in the series against Memphis. ...
Denver tied a season best by shooting .500 from 3-point range and
tied another season best by holding Memphis to 29 points in the
second half. ... It was the second game of a doubleheader in Pepsi
Center. The Colorado Crush of the Arena Football League played
their inaugural game earlier in the day.


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