MEMPHIS, Tenn. -- Forward Zach Randolph scored 20 points, but it was the MEMPHIS Grizzlies' bench, led by forward Ed Davis and guard Jerryd Bayless, that propelled the Grizzlies to a 120-99 victory over the Denver Nuggets on Saturday night.
"I think everyone is starting to get comfortable with their roles," Grizzlies starting point guard Mike Conley said of the reserves. "And James Johnson has done a good job of coming in and being a playmaker, which allows (Bayless) to be a scorer."
Denver, which won three of four against the Grizzlies last season, was playing MEMPHIS for the first time this season. The Nuggets had the misfortune of running into a Grizzlies team whose reserves are hitting their stride. The bench scored 51 points in a victory over Utah on Monday.
"It takes time," Bayless said of the reserves finding a rhythm. "I think early in the season we still hadn't figured everybody out. With new guys on a new team it takes time to kind of develop a chemistry. I'm not going to say we're there yet, but we are starting to take steps to where we want to be. If we continue to play together and be unselfish and move the ball, I think we can be very good."
"We're just trying to bring energy and a different dimension when we're out there," Davis said. "We're just trying to pick up where the starters leave off or, if we're down, bring them up."
Johnson, called up from the NBA Development League on Dec. 16, contributed six points, three rebounds, two assists and a block during a 25-7 run that gave the Grizzlies a 25-point lead (110-85) with 4:56 to play.
"I just feel like I'm playing as hard as I can," Johnson said. "I feel like everybody is playing as hard as they can."
Randolph averaged only 13 points in the four games against Denver last season, but he was dominant early in the third quarter when the Grizzlies (13-16) pulled away. The Grizzlies extended their lead to 25 points midway through the final quarter as their bench scored 23 of 25 points during one stretch.
Denver attempted a rally early in the fourth quarter, but the Grizzlies scored 11 straight -- and 13 of 15 -- to put the game out of reach at 103-83.
"You have to give them credit," Nuggets coach Brian Shaw said. "They played hard. They made shots. Every single time they got an offensive rebound, they turned it into a 3 or at least a bucket at their end."
Setting a torrid pace by shooting 63 percent in the opening quarter, the Nuggets built a seven-point lead (37-30) early in the second quarter before the Grizzlies responded. They went on a 14-1 run powered by their bench and led 44-38 midway through the second quarter.
NOTES: The Grizzlies are 6-10 at the FedExForum through 16 games this season after going 32-9 at home last season. ... Nuggets and former Grizzlies F Darrell Arthur missed the game with a right quadriceps contusion. ... Nuggets F Kenneth Faried, who had missed the previous two games with a left ankle sprain, returned. He fell hard to the court after being fouled by Grizzlies F James Johnson on a layup attempt midway through the second quarter but did not leave the game. ... The Nuggets failed to surpass 100 points for the sixth straight game, while the 120 points scored by the Grizzlies represented a season-high. Denver shot 37 percent in the second half after shooting 57 percent in the first half. ... Denver, the second-best rebounding team in the NBA at 46.5 boards per game, had only 25 rebounds. The Grizzlies had 46, including 19 offensive boards.