The roles looked reversed Saturday night.
Chucky Atkins had 28 points and 12 assists and Tarence Kinsey matched a career-high with 28 points to lead the Grizzlies to a 133-118 victory over Denver, snapping the Nuggets' season-best eight-game winning streak.
Memphis, which already has assured itself of the worst record in the NBA, snapped a six-game losing streak and had six players in double figures.
"The only people that believe we can win is us," Kinsey said. "We've been beat up and let down all season, and to bounce back and get a win like this on a team that was on a hot streak ... feels real good."
Carmelo Anthony led Denver with 28 points and Nene scored 22 points on 10-for-12 shooting. J.R. Smith came off the bench to score 19 points and Allen Iverson had 16 for Denver. Marcus Camby added 14 points and 11 rebounds.
"Teams like (Memphis) are scary teams," Camby said. "They really have nothing to play for. They're out there playing loose and free. They were knocking down 3s and knocking down shots."
The Grizzlies, who shot 58 percent for the game, led by as many as 12 in the first half, but a third-quarter rally keyed by Anthony and Iverson pulled Denver even.
In the final period, it was the lowly Grizzlies who made shots to build the lead to 13 points with 4:11 remaining.
"We played one end of the court," Nuggets coach George Karl said. "We played no defense. We never had the attitude to win the game. I thought our defensive focus was ordinary at best."
Iverson agreed Denver didn't come into the game with the proper mind-set.
"We scored enough points to win the basketball game," Iverson said. "We just didn't come and play defense."
The Nuggets problem was handling the ball in the first half.
Memphis led 64-56 at intermission behind 12 points apiece from Kinsey and Atkins, while Jones had 11 points.
Denver shot well early -- Nene hit his first four shots and missed only one of his nine field goal attempts in the half -- but Memphis stayed close and led by as many as 12 in the first half because Denver reached double-digit turnovers before four minutes were gone in the second quarter. The Nuggets finished with 14 giveaways in the half.
The Nuggets had 21 turnovers for the game, including seven by guard Steve Blake and six by Iverson. The turnovers contributed to a season-high 14 steals for Memphis.
Nene and Camby got in foul trouble after halftime, but Iverson loosened up, scoring eight points in the third quarter to go with 13 from Anthony in the period.
Back-to-back 3-pointers from Smith pulled the Nuggets even with three minutes left in the third period, and the game was tied at 95 entering the fourth.
"When you reflect on how we've been playing the whole month of April, you feel like this was a game we should have won," Camby said. "We didn't want to give back any momentum we've gained."
Atkins had 11 points in the final period, hitting all four of his shots while Kinsey scored 10 to help Memphis pull away.
"I don't consider it big," Kinsey said of the win. "I consider it huge. It gives us just a little bit more hope."
- The Memphis injuries have left Grizzlies coach Tony Barone with a bit of a dark sense of humor. Asked if there were any other injuries, Barone replied: "Who knows? Someone could have jammed their finger on the door coming in, the way this is going."
- Gay sat out his third straight game with a tender right ankle. His status for the rest of the season is questionable. "If he's not 100 percent, he's not playing," Barone said. "I don't think it's fair to him. Eighty percent. Ninety percent. That doesn't work now."
- Camby has led Nuggets in rebounding the last six games.
- Iverson's 16 points moved him past David Robinson for 26th place on the all-time scoring list.
- Anthony autographed the pair of game shoes he wore and gave them to one of the locker room attendants with directions to send them to Warrick in the Grizzlies' locker room. The two were teammates on Syracuse's national championship team in 2003.