DENVER — Forward Zach Randolph scored 20 points and grabbed 11 rebounds, and guard Mike Conley added 19 points, including a key 3-pointer in the final minute, as the Memphis Grizzlies held on to beat the Denver Nuggets 94-92 Monday night.
Guard Courtney Lee also had 19 points for the Grizzlies, which kept pace in a tight playoff chase.
After reaching the Western Conference Finals last year, the Grizzlies (44-30) are just trying to make the playoffs this year. They pulled even with the Dallas Mavericks and Phoenix Suns in a tie for seventh in the West with eight games remaining for each.
Denver, conversely, is just trying to finish strong in a lost season. After suffering a 31-point home loss to the San Antonio Spurs on Friday, the Nuggets (32-42) looked to bounce back against the Grizzlies. They almost did, but Memphis held on.
Center Timofey Mozgov, who tied a career high with 23 points, hit a free throw to cut the Nuggets’ deficit to 88-86 with 1:35 left. The teams traded buckets before Conley banked in a 3-pointer to make it 93-88 with 36 seconds left.
After Nuggets guard Randy Foye hit a layup, Randolph missed two free throws with 8.2 seconds remaining. Denver got the rebound, called a timeout and set up a play for the 7-foot-1 Mozgov at the 3-point arc. He missed but then dunked the rebound.
Lee was fouled with 0.7 seconds left. He hit the first free throw and missed the second on purpose to end the game.
Forward Kenneth Faried had 17 points for the Nuggets, who lost their fourth game in a row.
The Grizzlies were coming off a loss in Portland on Sunday, but they managed to build a 16-point lead in the first half. Lee scored 13 to lead Memphis, but Denver made a charge late in the second quarter to get with 47-45 at the break.
Randolph, who took just four shots in the first half, came alive in the third quarter. He scored 13 points in the period, 11 in the final 4:16 as the Grizzlies turned a two-point lead into a 75-68 advantage heading into the fourth.
Rookie guard Nick Calathes scored five points to keep Memphis ahead by seven, but Faried had a putback and three free throws to make it 82-80 with 5:58 left. Faried had a chance to tie it, but his turnaround in the lane was short.
NOTES: Nuggets F Wilson Chandler missed his fifth consecutive game due to a left groin strain. Chandler, who has battled hip and groin injuries all season, is not officially shut down, but with Denver eliminated from the postseason, he might not play in the remaining eight games. … With Chandler out, Denver had only 10 players available. … The Grizzlies lead the NBA in fewest points allowed (90.4 per game) since C Marc Gasol returned from a sprained left MCL on Jan. 14. … Grizzlies F Zach Randolph leads the team in points (17.4 per game) and rebounds (10.1). He is also the franchise leader in double-doubles.
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