The Memphis Grizzlies have a winning record since Marc Gasol's season-ending injury, taking advantage of matchups against lowly teams. They couldn't beat one such opponent in their latest game, however.
They'll seek to bounce back Monday night by extending their recent mastery over the short-handed Denver Nuggets, who are now missing their leading scorer.
Memphis (34-24) is 4-2 since losing Gasol to a broken right foot, earning all of those wins against teams that are well out of the playoff picture. The Grizzlies opened a three-game trip by completing a home-and-home sweep of the Los Angeles Lakers on Friday but fell 111-106 to Phoenix the next night.
The Suns had lost 13 straight, tying their longest single-season skid in franchise history.
"It is frustrating knowing that we felt like we were rolling (coming into the game)," point guard Mike Conley said. "We still feel like we are rolling right now and playing good basketball. For us to come out and not play our best, I think our focus level wasn't where it need to be."
The Grizzlies have proved sharp enough to win four straight over the Nuggets (23-36), including two this season. Gasol, though, was the star in the latest matchup, a 102-101 victory in Denver on Jan. 21.
He scored 27 and delivered the go-ahead, three-point play with 12.2 seconds to go. Conley chipped in 20 points in Memphis' second victory in the past three visits to the Mile High City.
The Grizzlies won four times in their first 35 games there.
In the finale of their trip, they will face a Nuggets team that might not have Danilo Gallinari for three to four weeks. He hurt his right ankle in the third quarter of Friday's 122-116 overtime loss in Dallas.
Gallinari is averaging a career-high 19.5 points and is among the league leaders with 8.2 free-throw attempts per game while connecting at 86.8 percent from the line. He missed the final six games in December because of a sprained left ankle, and the Nuggets were 1-5 in his absence.
"He's going to be out for a while," coach Michael Malone said. "He knew that right after (the defeat). He compared it to his sprain earlier in the year ... and he says it's worse.
"I feel bad for him. He was having a career year. Obviously, it's tough when you lose a player like Gallo because we're so young."
The Nuggets have dropped four of five even with Gallinari on the floor and blew a 23-point lead in the second quarter Friday while failing to build on Wednesday's 87-81 road victory over the Los Angeles Clippers.
"It was very disappointing," Malone said. "Obviously, we had a chance to get another quality win, and I feel we let it slip away."
Kenneth Faried will try to step up in Gallinari's absence with a third consecutive high-scoring performance. The forward, averaging 12.5 points, has a combined 41 on 18-of-27 shooting in the past two contests.
Faried, who also grabbed 12 rebounds against the Mavericks, had 17 points on 8-of-12 shooting and 12 boards in last month's home loss to Memphis.
Conley is averaging 20.0 points on 50.5 percent shooting in his last seven games, 5.5 more than in his first 45 this season.