MEMPHIS, Tenn. — Anybody who makes a good batch of funeral potatoes might consider dusting off the recipe book and gathering the ingredients.
Utah's disheartening 103-85 loss to the Memphis Grizzlies on Monday night put the Jazz's playoff hopes on life support.
With only 11 games left in this bizarre season, the Jazz (36-35) trail the Grizzlies (39-32) for the Western Conference's eighth and final playoff spot by a full three games.
From losing Devin Harris with a re-strained right hamstring three minutes into the game to an especially difficult night inside to a lack of cohesiveness and execution, nothing seemed to go the Jazz's way in this critical contest.
"Losing Devin like that, that's a tough pill to swallow," Jazz guard Raja Bell said. "But they came out and acted like the team that had more on the line than we did. They pushed us around the court. They imposed their will, and usually that team wins the game.
"You wouldn't have expected that tonight," Bell added, "but I think that's the way it kind of played out."
With so much at stake for the Jazz, who could've pulled within one game of the playoff race with a win, Bell certainly wasn't the only player in Utah's locker room stunned about getting roughed up by an inspired Grizzlies team.
The disappointment is understandable, considering how Utah turned the ball over 17 times compared to the Grizzlies' nine turnovers, how the Jazz were outrebounded 40-30 and how the visitors were simply outworked. Not to mention that they are 5-13 since Jerry Sloan's last game as head coach.
"On top of being able to get the tiebreaker and for us to be able to move a whole game up, you would think that we'd be able to play," Jazz guard C.J. Miles said. "They played better as a whole."
Especially down low.
Memphis overpowered Utah inside, outscoring the Jazz 66-40 in the paint.
While the Jazz had a quiet night from Paul Millsap (15 points, six rebounds) and Al Jefferson (12 points, four boards), the Grizzlies got solid contributions from multiple big guys.
That solid inside showing for Memphis came all the way from starters Zach Randolph (19 points, 13 rebounds) and Marc Gasol (11 points), to bench bigs Darrell Arthur (14 points) and Hamed Haddadi (10 points).
"Those guys are really tough inside," Jazz coach Tyrone Corbin said, adding that Memphis' occasional zone gave Utah's interior attack trouble.
"They had 66 points in the paint and shot 50.6 percent from the field," Corbin added. "That's tough on any night."
A night after losing a 110-108 heartbreaker in Houston, the Jazz found themselves trailing by 15 heading into the fourth quarter Monday.
That's also when Utah found some life, with a Gordon Hayward 3-pointer capping a seven-point, fourth-quarter-opening surge.
But Memphis, which had seven players in double figures, responded with a 15-3 run to put a chokehold on the Jazz — for this game and, for all intents and purposes, the playoff chase as far as Utah's concerned.
"They poured it on," Corbin said. "We cut it down to eight. We got into what we were doing, then they got some transition baskets on us. It's a tough ballgame after playing (Sunday) night. We ran out of gas."
Added Hayward: "We were fighting our way back into it. They got more buckets and we were right back down to where we started and it kind of took the life away from us."
It didn't help the Jazz's season-saving efforts when they lost their two new key contributors in Harris, who said he is unlikely to play Wednesday at Oklahoma City, and Derrick Favors.
The rookie forward left late in the third quarter with a sprained left ankle. X-rays were negative, but it's uncertain when he'll be able to return to action.82 comments on this story
As for the Jazz, they have a 6-foot-deep hole to climb out of, beginning at the Northwest Division-leading Thunder.
"We'll continue to fight and, obviously, we didn't have our best effort tonight," Harris said. "But the best thing is that we have another one on Wednesday."
Miles admitted the team's frustrations "came out a little bit" during the fourth-quarter skid.
"We're a tight-knit group of guys that usually gets along pretty well," he said. "You never really see things like that with us. It was just more frustration than anything."