With their unfortunate reality housed in a dimly lit gymnasium near downtown, the Grizzlies began the most important part of this regular season trying to look at the bright side.

They ran and breathed hard while sweating profusely and showing the commitment that it took for them to begin the 25-game, post-All-Star schedule tied for eighth in the Western Conference playoff standings.

The only difference Monday night was forward Rudy Gay's absence -- something the Griz must now deal with for at least 13 games.

Gay will not be with the team when the Griz face the Denver Nuggets tonight in the Pepsi Center. He's recovering from a partially dislocated left shoulder that will be re-evaluated in a month.

The Griz, meanwhile, will try to remain in what promises to be a tight postseason race without their most versatile and clutch performer.

"The one thing we can't do is feel sorry for ourselves," forward Zach Randolph said. "We've got to come out and believe we can win. I believe we can win."

Memphis (31-26) owns the same record as Utah, is a game behind seventh-place Denver and just 11/2 games in back of the fifth and sixth slots that are occupied by Portland and New Orleans.

And as much as the Griz took advantage of a soft schedule in February, they must deal with a more stringent March. Consider this: San Antonio comes calling three times. There are also matchups with New Orleans, Dallas, Oklahoma City and Utah.