DENVER (AP) — Missing their top scorer, the Denver Nuggets leaned on their defense to end a three-game losing streak.
Will Barton scored 17 points, Trey Lyles had 16 and the Nuggets overcame a slow start to beat the Memphis Grizzlies 87-78 on Friday night.
Denver took control of the game by holding Memphis to 13 points in the third quarter, and the Grizzlies finished with a season low in scoring by a Nuggets opponent.
“Our defense stayed the course,” Nuggets coach Michael Malone said. “Tonight, a lot of guys struggled to make shots but they never deterred from the defensive end of the floor. This was a game we had to have and I am proud of our guys for going out there and getting the job done.”
Nikola Jokic added 14 points and nine rebounds for Denver, which played without star guard Gary Harris, who was excused for personal reasons. It was the first game that Harris, who averages 16.9 points, has missed this season. Barton started in his place.
“It’s always tough, not having Gary Harris, who does everything,” Barton said. “He’s one of our top defenders, one of our top scorers. But our mentality is always next man up and everyone stepped up and played well and we got the win.”
Barton said the Nuggets’ defense was a constant.
“We were making those guys work and getting after them and trying to make them uncomfortable,” he said.
Marc Gasol had 22 points and 11 rebounds for Memphis, his 18th double-double this season. Tyreke Evans and James Ennis III added 12 points each.
“Defensively, they were able to run a lot more and they got to the free throw line more often,” Gasol said. “And they controlled the pace in the second half.”