Memphis Grizzlies Get Rocked By Denver Nuggets Despite No Melo Or Billups

Stephen PattersonCorrespondent IFebruary 22, 2011

PHOENIX - DECEMBER 08:  Head coach Lionel Hollins of the Memphis Grizzlies during the NBA game against the Phoenix Suns at US Airways Center on December 8, 2010 in Phoenix, Arizona. The Grizzlies defeated the Suns 104-98 in overtime.  NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that, by downloading and or using this photograph, User is consenting to the terms and conditions of the Getty Images License Agreement.  (Photo by Christian Petersen/Getty Images)
Christian Petersen/Getty Images

The Grizzlies didn't get the start to the second half of the season they had probably hoped for as they fell to the Denver Nuggets 120-107 on Tuesday night in Denver's first post-Melo era game. The contest wasn't as close as the score might suggest.

Denver started off the game hot, leading 61-42 at halftime, and never seemed to let off as they held a commanding lead for a majority of the game despite a failed late comeback attempt by the Grizzlies.

It was the Grizzlies' first game since losing Rudy Gay to a partially separated shoulder, and the team will need to do a lot of work and watch a lot of tape from this game to avoid suffering more losses like this one while he is out recovering.

Tony Allen and O.J. Mayo led the way for the Grizzlies and kept them from suffering an even more embarrassing loss, as they finished with 26 and 21 points, respectively.

This was the first game for the Nuggets since their blockbuster trade that sent Carmelo Anthony and Chauncey Billups, along with other players, to the New York Knicks that ended a seven-month saga as to where 'Melo would end up.

Since the trade is still being finalized, not only were the Nuggets without the five players they are sending to the Knicks, but they were also missing their new additions they are to receive in the deal, leaving them with a very short bench. Only eight players saw action in the victory for the Nuggets.

J.R. Smith led the way for Denver, dropping 26 points on 6-11 shooting from downtown. Aaron Afflalo and Ty Lawson also chipped in 21 points a piece for the Nuggets.

Rodney Carney, who was signed to a 10-day contract by the Grizzlies to help fill the void left by Gay's absence, did not play in the loss.

Instead, Sam Young and Tony Allen split a majority of the minutes at small forward, with DeMarre Carroll also receiving some minutes late in the game.

The contest saw plenty of fouls called on both teams with a total of 56 personal fouls being handed out. Each team saw two players foul out of the game, as Memphis lost Marc Gasol and Darrell Arthur and Denver lost Nene and Al Harrington late in the game.

The Grizzlies have now lost eight consecutive games in the Pepsi Center to the Nuggets.

While both teams were missing key players for this game, I expected a much stronger effort from the Grizzlies as it rarely seemed like the Nuggets were even undermanned during this one.

For Memphis to avoid a second-half season collapse during Gay's absence that could cost them a trip to the postseason, the Grizzlies will need all of their key players to step up their play over the next few weeks. They cannot allow teams to jump off to insurmountable leads early in games like Denver did tonight.