NBA Preview from The Sports Network
Tuesday, February 22nd (All times eastern)
Memphis Grizzlies (31-26) at Denver Nuggets (32-25), 9 p.m.
(Sports Network) - Denver's season-long distraction is finally over and the short-handed Nuggets will go about the business of starting a new era tonight when George Karl's club welcomes the streaking Memphis Grizzlies to Pepsi Center.
The Grizzlies have traditionally played very poorly in Denver, dropping seven straight and 24 of 25 overall dating back to the old McNichols Sports Arena. Things could change tonight, however, with Carmelo Anthony out of the picture for the Nuggets.
Ignore the spin, Anthony had no intention to play in the Rockies past this season and after watching what happened in Cleveland and Toronto after LeBron James and Chris Bosh fled those respective cities this past offseason, the Nuggets were proactive, sending Anthony to his preferred destination, New York, in a blockbuster deal that is scheduled to be finalized Tuesday.
Late Monday night, the Nuggets agreed to a trade that will ship Anthony to the Knicks, along with guards Chauncey Billups and Anthony Carter and swingman Renaldo Balkman for forwards Wilson Chandler and Danilo Gallinari, point guard Raymond Felton and center Timofey Mozgov, along with three draft picks, including the Knicks' 2014 first-round draft pick.
Karl told the Denver Post that he was "glad" the trade was finally done and that "it's an opportunity to re-invent" the team.
"I think everybody handled it as classy as you could handle it," Karl told the paper. "There's some sadness to it, there always will be."
The timing of the deals means that the Nuggets will likely be without their new additions until Thursday's visit from Boston.
Anthony excelled in what turned out to be his last game with Denver, a 94-87 Nuggets win in Milwaukee last Wednesday. The All-Star finished with 38 points and 12 rebounds, as Denver used a late push to beat the Milwaukee Bucks, 94-87, at the Bradley Center.
Billups added 20 points for the Nuggets, who ended the game on an 11-1 run. Billups scored seven points during the pivotal stretch. Kenyon Martin had 11 points, nine rebounds, and seven assists to help Denver snap a two-game slide heading into the All-Star break.
The Grizzlies, meanwhile, won four straight heading into the break and capped off a perfect three-game homestand last Tuesday when Mike Conley finished with a team-high 22 points as Memphis topped Philadelphia, 102-91.
Zach Randolph posted 21 points with 10 rebounds and seven assists for the Grizzlies, while Sam Young added 12 points and five boards.
The news wasn't all good for the Grizzlies, however. Star Rudy Gay scored 11 points before leaving the game in the second quarter after injuring his left shoulder. An ensuing MRI revealed a subluxation in the shoulder and the swingman, who is averaging 19.8 points, 6.2 rebounds, is expected to miss at least four weeks of action.
To help replace Gay Memphis signed the defensive-minded Rodney Carney to a 10- day contract on Monday. Carney, a former first round pick that played his college ball in Memphis, appeared in 25 games for Golden State earlier this season and averaged 5.0 points in 13.2 minutes of action before he was waived by the Warriors in early January.
Denver is currently seventh in the jumbled Western Conference playoff race, one-half game behind Portland and New Orleans but also just one game ahead of Utah and Memphis.
02/22 10:45:58 ET