Grizz fans have started to see a positive change in a team that has been struggling to restore its defensive identity while battling injuries.
Points in the paint, out-rebounding opposing teams and playing defense down the stretch.
Well, it certainly looks familiar. Especially to those who attended or tuned into Saturday's game (Dec. 28) as the Grizzlies rallied after halftime to hand the Denver Nuggets their sixth straight loss (120-99) in FedExForum. Memphis reached the 120-point mark for the first time this season.
The two teams were known as a good match-up last year, holding very similar regular-season records. Memphis won 56 games. Denver finished with 57. Both marks were franchise records.
On Saturday, the Grizzlies faced off against the Nuggets with Tayshaun Prince back in the starting lineup after missing games due to a sore left knee. Grizz Center Kosta Koufos, who was acquired from Denver for Darrell Arthur, made the first five shots of the game. Memphis fed the ball inside for most of the game but was matched by Denver throughout the first half. Denver had an answer for every Memphis shot, ending the first quarter up by two (29-27).
In the second quarter, the Grizzlies' summoned the members of its second unit to match the Nuggets intensity and they did not disappoint, keeping the Grizzlies afloat. Memphis finished the half down by one (56-55). Early in the third quarter, Memphis banged out a 10-2 run, giving the Grizzlies a seven-point advantage.
There were 62 points from the Memphis bench compared to Denver's 34. Four of the reserves scored in double figures, with Ed Davis leading the way with 17 points. Davis played solid defense against Kenneth Fareid, who came off the bench for Denver after missing the last two games with a sprained ankle.
Memphis held Denver to 16 points in the third quarter, including Jerryd Bayless' big shot right before the buzzer to give the Grizzlies an 85-72 lead.
"I think everybody played a little bit better," said Bayless, pointing to the defense. "Once we played defense our offense became contagious. Everybody played well, and we got a good win."
The Grizzlies struggled defensively in the fourth quarter, but went on an 11-1 run. James Johnson checked in with 14 points.
"Nobody wants to lose on this team and we're all trying to make the same playoff push," said Johnson.
The Nuggets (14-15) were led by Ty Lawson's 20 points and eight assists. Wilson Chandler added 19. Zach Randolph led the Grizzlies in scoring with 20 points.
NOTE: The Grizzlies will face the Chicago Bulls on Monday (Dec. 30) at FedExForum.