It was a brutal ending to the final game of a tough five-game road trip for the Nuggets tonight in Memphis. After seemingly stealing the win with 13 seconds remaining, a heartbreaking buzzer-beater at the rim by Marc Gasol sent Denver home by a 108-107 final score.

The game’s last minute-and-a-half was as exciting as it was ugly. After a James Ennis three put Memphis up 106-105, the Nuggets had multiple chances to take the lead. But an awkward 3-point miss by Emmanuel Mudiay was followed up by a bad miss on a short jumper by Gary Harris. Denver’s defense held twice more, but consecutive charges by Harris and Mudiay gave the ball back to Memphis.

Then a bad Harris foul with 13 seconds left and Memphis still up one negated the shot clock. At that point Memphis just needed to inbound the ball cleanly, wait for a foul and hit some free throws to basically ice the game. But Mudiay and Harris trapped the ball, Harris stole it away and then fed Mudiay in transition for what looked to be the game-winning score. Mudiay may have gotten away with a foul on the trap, but the officials let them play and Harris made them pay.

But the Nuggets kept it interesting by throwing away an inbounds pass with under five seconds remaining, giving the Grizzlies one last shot. They took advantage with a well-drawn up final play executed perfectly by two savvy veterans, Carter and Gasol.

Emmanuel Mudiay again got off to hot start as a scorer, with eight points on 3-4 shooting in the first quarter. But three turnovers in the quarter also continued a negative trend for the young point guard. Mudiay would finish with seven turnovers for the second straight game. Despite his 23 points, the Nuggets offense just isn’t explosive enough to afford to give away possessions.

Several times in the game it looked as if Memphis would pull away, only to have Danilo Gallinari make a big three. Gallinari continued to get back on track from the field, scoring 21 points on 3-5 from distance. Nikola Jokic struggled in the first half but it was his big three that gave the Nuggets their first fourth-quarter lead. He would finish with 12 points and five rebounds in 28 minutes.

Footnotes

All five Nuggets starters finished with double-digit points while Jamal Murray contributed ten of his own off the bench.

Jusuf Nurkic was having a big first half when he took an elbow to the face from Jarell Martin. Nurkic was on the ground motionless for an entire possession. He would return rather quickly to the game but wasn’t the same player the rest of the night.

WHERE/WHEN

FedEx Forum, Memphis, Tennessee | November 8, 2016 | Regular Season Game No. 7

NUGGETS STAR OF THE GAME

Gallinari had 21 points, seven rebounds, and three steals, posting an efficient game and consistently keeping the Nuggets alive when Memphis threatened to stretch the lead.

PLAYS OF THE GAME

Faried’s slam

Mudiay’s fourth-quarter and-1

Harris’s near game-winning steal

Gasol’s game-winner

TURNING POINT OF THE GAME

Gasol’s tap-in off an inbounds pass from Vince Carter with 0.7 seconds left. The Nuggets decided to switch the screen which left Mudiay on the much bigger Gasol. Carter’s inbounds pass was perfectly placed and Mudiay had no chance to stop the game-winner.

BY THE NUMBERS

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WHAT’S NEXT

Denver finally comes home for just their second game at the Pepsi Center this season. They’ll face the defending Western Conference champion Golden State Warriors on Thursday, November 10.

Dan Fatigato

Dan Fatigato grew up outside of Chicago in the midst of the Bulls championship runs. He moved to Austin, TX, in 2000 before attending CU-Boulder from 2003-07, where he fell in love with the Nuggets. At CU he served as the Sports Editor for the Campus Press and freelanced for the Boulder Daily Camera sports section. After seven years in the enterprise software industry, Fatigato has gone back to his sportswriting roots. Follow his NBA blog at www.downontheblock.co.