Billups' 14-point run helps Nuggets ruin Hollins' return to Grizzlies

MEMPHIS, Tenn. -- New Memphis coach Lionel Hollins can see he has his work cut out.

Chauncey Billups scored 14 consecutive points in the third quarter and finished with 29 to lead the Denver Nuggets to a 100-85 victory Tuesday night, sending the Grizzlies to their 10th straight loss in Hollins' 2008-09 debut as coach.

"I can't speak for anything before I got here," Hollins said. "But what it looks like to me is the guys aren't in good shape and, as soon as there is a little bit of adversity, we tend to start going our own way and doing our own thing. We have to develop some discipline to stay with what we are doing and play together."

Billups' 14-point run allowed the Nuggets to build a 15-point lead en route to their 30th victory of the season. Denver's 30-15 record is its second-best 45-game start in the franchise's history.

The Nuggets got 20 points from J.R. Smith and 16 points from Linas Kleiza. Chris Andersen had five of Denver's 15 blocked shots, a season high.

"Chauncey came out and played," Grizzlies forward Rudy Gay said. "And they gave it to us in the third quarter. They took our mistakes and made buckets off them."

The Grizzlies committed a season-high 26 turnovers and shot 37.5 percent to lose for the 18th time in 20 games.

Memphis' losing streak is its longest since dropping 13 straight to open the 2002-03 season.

"I kind of figured under some new leadership with Coach Hollins that they were going to play extremely tough and compete," Billups said. "Once we figured that out and said 'OK, we've got to tighten up,' we were able to make the proper adjustments and get the game under control."

Rookie guard O.J. Mayo led the Grizzlies with 19 points. Gay, Kyle Lowry and Darius Miles scored 13 apiece.

After Billups led the Nuggets to its 15-point lead early in the third quarter, Memphis gradually chipped away and trimmed the margin to four with 7:45 left on a jumper by Lowry. But Denver scored the next 16 points.

Game notes
The Grizzlies announced Tuesday they reached a buyout for guard Steve Francis, acquired by the franchise Dec. 24. Originally drafted by the Vancouver Grizzlies in 1999, Francis played for Houston, Orlando, New York and Houston a second time before Memphis acquired him. ... The Grizzlies also announced the hiring of Barry Hecker as an assistant, and the move of Kevin O'Neill, an assistant under former coach Marc Iavaroni, to special assistant to general manager Chris Wallace. Iavaroni assistants Andy Greer and Ron DuBois were let go. ... During its 10-game losing streak the Grizzlies have only scored more than 90 points once.