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Denver beats Memphis 87-80 for 11th straight win

Published on NewsOK Modified: March 16, 2013 at 12:09 am •  Published: March 16, 2013

DENVER (AP) — The Denver Nuggets plodded along for three quarters before beating Memphis at its own game.

Hardly known as a half-court team, the high-flying Nuggets had to resort to set plays and setting picks to finally break free.

Turns out, they're pretty good at it, especially when they dump the ball inside to Kosta Koufos.

Koufos scored 18 points and grabbed a career-high 16 rebounds, helping the Nuggets rally to knock off the Grizzlies 87-80 on Friday night for their 11th straight victory, their longest streak in 30 years.

This is definitely an offense Koufos could get used to.

Only, he'd rather not.

"We want to maintain being a running team," the 7-foot center said. "We need to keep going and attacking."

That wasn't possible against the Grizzlies, the best defensive team in the league. They clogged the passing lanes and clamped down on fast breaks. The Nuggets were growing frustrated, too, and the crowd restless.

The Nuggets hadn't been shut down like this in quite a while, especially at home, where they've now won 15 straight games to run their record at Pepsi Center to 30-3.

Then along came Kenneth Faried, providing a much-needed spark with his energetic play. The player known as "Manimal" was blocking shots, hustling for rebounds and pestering Zach Randolph, the Grizzlies' force up front who had 18 points and 18 rebounds.

With the Nuggets trailing 66-58 heading into the fourth quarter, Faried helped them go on a 17-4 run and seize back the momentum. That's exactly why he's on the court.

"I saw my teammates were not their usual selves — guys weren't doing what they usually do," said Faried, who finished with eight points and four blocked shots. "It seemed like we were in a struggle offensively, couldn't score the ball. I just played hard and brought some energy. I believed it helped tonight, gave a boost to my teammates."

That it did. Winning this way also showed the Nuggets they can play any way necessary.

"I thought this was a good test for us," Nuggets coach George Karl said. "I said at the beginning of the fourth quarter, 'This is good for us. We'll find out how we have to do it — can we do it?'

"I thought Kenneth was great. I thought Kosta — those guys, in a big game, played at a very important level for us."

The last time the Nuggets won 11 straight was Feb. 24 to March. 15, 1983.

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