Nuggets halt eight-game losing streak

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DENVER -- With the weight of an eight-game losing streak and internal strife on their shoulders, the Denver Nuggets watched as Memphis forward Mike Miller launched a game-tying 3-point attempt with the clock running down.

Considering how things have gone, it wouldn't have surprised the Nuggets to see the shot fall through to force overtime.

Instead, the ball banged off the back iron and Denver walked away with a 111-108 win on Friday night.

"It's a wonderful feeling. We got the monkey off our back," said Denver forward Kenneth Faried, who scored 16 points. "We can't put it back on."

Guard Ty Lawson had 18 points and 12 assists and center Timofey Mozgov added 16 points for the Nuggets, who snapped a five-game home losing streak.

Forward Zach Randolph had 25 points and 13 rebounds and guard Mike Conley had 23 points and eight assists for Memphis.

"We scored 108, which is certainly great, but to give up 58 at halftime and 111 at the end wasn't great," Memphis coach David Joerger said. "They shot like it was a shootaround for most of the game."

It was Denver's first win since mid-December, a rough stretch that included bad losses and at least one disgruntled player. Friday was a much-needed elixir.

"It was a feeling we needed to get, especially in light of everything that's been going on in that eight-game losing streak, and the incident from the other night," Nuggets coach Brian Shaw said.

The Nuggets' downward spiral reached a pinnacle on Wednesday when guard Andre Miller was seen yelling at Shaw on the bench during the loss to Philadelphia. The Nuggets suspended Miller on Thursday but rescinded it two hours before the tip on Friday.

Instead, Miller was given time away from the team.

"Maybe some space for him to deal with personal issues and both sides to cool down," Shaw said. "There's a difference of opinion and as a coach I have to decide what's best not just for Andre but what's best for the team. That's what I thought was best for the team, so that's what I decided."

Miller was unhappy with his minutes, which dwindled as the season has progressed. It came to a head when he received the first "Did Not Play-Coach's Decision" of his 15-year career. He also saw his streak of 239 straight games played end.

Miller let his anger and frustration boil over in a sideline tirade that keeps him away for at least two more games.

Shaw held individual meetings and a team meeting with the players to get them on the same page. The players said the sessions helped.

"We stopped playing so tight and nervous and hesitant," Faried said. "We just came out and hooped and didn't really care about the rotation or care who was playing at the time. We were just pulling for each other and wanted to win."

That translated into a win to end the Nuggets' longest losing streak in 11 seasons, but they had to sweat it out.

"They played desperate," Conley said. "They needed a win and they played like it. They worked hard for it and they outworked us at the end."

Denver settled down after a shaky third quarter to take an 87-77 lead with 9:30 remaining.

Forward Tayshaun Prince's 3-pointer with a minute left made it 107-104, but Lawson answered to make it 110-104 with 53 seconds remaining.

Two free throws and a layup by Conley with 15.8 seconds left cut it to two, and Nuggets point guard Nate Robinson made one of his two free throws with 4.1 seconds left to make it a three-point game.

That set up the final play, and Mike Miller had a good look at the end but couldn't sink the shot.

"We had five small guys in and we were switching everything," Shaw said. "We said they're going to have to make a great shot over a contested hand. He got a great look at it, but we finally got the break tonight.”

Andre Miller's situation seemed to shake up the Nuggets -- at least in the first half. They shot 54.8 percent from the field, outrebounded the Grizzlies and led by as many as 16 before settling for a 58-48 advantage at intermission.

The Grizzlies came out aggressive in the third quarter and it paid off. They forced seven turnovers and went to the line 12 times before committing their first foul with 1:59 left in the quarter.

Memphis took a five-point lead before Denver rallied to lead 77-75 heading into the fourth.

"We gave ourselves a chance. They made a run. We bounced back," Randolph said. "We felt we should have won the game."

NOTES: The Nuggets' eight-game losing streak was their longest since losing the final eight games of the 2002-03 season. They also suffered a 14-game losing streak in that campaign. ... Grizzlies F Zach Randolph recorded a double-double in 16 of his last 22 games entering Friday. ... The Grizzlies held a 46-25 rebounding edge over Denver when the teams met in Memphis on Saturday. It was the fewest rebounds by the Nuggets since March 18, 2008, at Detroit. ... Grizzlies F Tayshaun Prince has started 789 games since the start of the 2003-04. It is the second most in the NBA in that span, trailing only Miami F LeBron James. ... Memphis G Mike Conley has scored in double figures in 28 of 30 games this season.

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