8:00 PM ET, March 11, 2012
Pepsi Center, Denver, CO
DENVER -- Sitting quietly at his locker, Andre Miller tore the stat sheet into shreds and put the bits of paper in the trash.
He knew that the last of his six turnovers cost the Denver Nuggets a potential game-tying shot in the final seconds.
O.J. Mayo also was mad at himself for committing six turnovers, but at least he could take satisfaction -- and considerable satisfaction at that -- in his shooting touch.
Mayo matched his season high with 22 points, including a critical 3-pointer in the closing seconds and the Memphis Grizzlies hung on to beat the Nuggets 94-91 on Sunday night to sweep the three-game regular-season series for the first time in their history.
"I definitely did have it going," said Mayo, who came off the bench. "So mad, had so many turnovers. I know how important it is to take care of the ball when you're playing the one (position) and I failed in that area. I'm happy it didn't cause us to lose."
Mike Conley, who returned to play after suffering a cut above his right eye, had 13 points. Dante Cunningham added 12 points and Tony Allen 10 for the Grizzlies, who also snapped an eight-game losing streak in Denver.
"O.J. was super. He carried us tonight," Memphis coach Lionel Hollins said. "He was the man. I was really upset with our guys early. I didn't take them out to rest them. I took them out because we weren't competing like I thought we should. As soon as that other group came in, they got us back in the game. I could see I was going to need the bench a lot more tonight and they produced. It was good to see."
Memphis stretched its lead to 85-80 after Allen hit a 21-foot jumper with 6:20 remaining. But the Nuggets fought back to within a point at 88-87 when Ty Lawson connected on a 3-pointer with 2:55 left.
The teams traded free throw shots over the next two minutes before Mayo drained a 3-pointer with 57 seconds remaining to put the Grizzlies up 94-89.
Nene and Brewer each hit one of their two free throws in the final 40 seconds, pulling the Nuggets within three. After a Memphis miss, Denver rushed up the floor in the waning seconds but failed to get off shot after Miller lost the ball.
"I just fumbled the ball, that's all," said Miller, who also had 14 points, three steals and seven assists. "In that case, you don't want to give the team an opportunity to set up on defense. I fumbled the ball and that was the game."
Nuggets coach George Karl afterward had second thoughts about his strategy to push the ball upcourt immediately after Harrington rebounded Cunningham's missed shot with about 9 seconds remaining.
"In hindsight, I should have called a timeout," Karl said.
The bottom line for Karl, though, was that the Nuggets, who had 24 turnovers, committed too many giveaways, a thread that ran through all three of their losses to the defensive-minded Grizzlies.
"We lose because we throw away too many possessions," Karl said.
Memphis had 21 turnovers of its own, but still managed to come out on top.
"This is a tough environment to play in, a tough team to play," Conley said of the Nuggets. "They've been playing very well. This is a huge win for us."
Trailing 58-55 after Nene made a pair of free throws, Memphis went on a 14-1 tear to grab a 69-59 lead with 3:35 left in the third, their biggest lead to that point. But they lost Conley during the surge, when he had to leave the game for the locker room to have a cut over his right eye treated. Conley returned early in the fourth quarter.
The Nuggets got back into it with a 9-0 run of their own, capped by Arron Afflalo's 20-foot jumper pulling Denver to within 69-68. Mayo hit a long jumper to stall Denver's momentum and the Grizzlies held a 73-70 lead going into the fourth.
Denver led 53-50 at halftime, helped by Nene, who broke through for a pair of dunks and hit two free throws during the last 2:18 of the second period.
The Nuggets' Timofey Mozgov (left ankle), Kosta Koufos (left knee) and Rudy Fernandez (lower back) remain sidelined. ... Memphis has won 10 of its last 12 games. ... Denver was playing the first of five straight games against winning teams. Atlanta, Oklahoma City, Boston and Dallas are next. ... All three of Memphis' wins over Denver this season were by three or fewer points.
DENVER, CO - MARCH 11: Head coach George Karl of the Denver Nuggets stands with his team during the National...(Photo by Garrett W. Ellwood/NBAE via Getty Images)
Team Stat Comparison
|FGM-FGA||37-73 (.507)||32-79 (.405)|
|3PM-3PA||5-15 (.333)||4-9 (.444)|
|FTM-FTA||15-23 (.652)||23-30 (.767)|
|Fast Break Points||8||14|
|Fouls (Tech/Flagrant)||22 (1/0)||19 (0/0)|
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