Tom Smart, Deseret News
SALT LAKE CITY — After a 110-87 shellacking on the road at the hand of the Oklahoma City Thunder earlier in the week, the Jazz sorely needed a win to keep playoff hopes alive. Gordon Hayward led the way with 17 points and eight rebounds as the Jazz edged the Memphis Grizzlies, 90-84.
Guards: Mo Williams looked his best since returning from a thumb injury as he finished with 13 points, six assists and four rebounds. Mo Williams' decision-making looked better as well as he shot 5-of-13 from the floor. Randy Foye continued his offensive woes with five points on 1-of-5 shooting and 2-of-2 from the line.
Forwards: Hayward got his first start in quite some time and took full advantage of his 38 minutes and starting role. Hayward's biggest points came on a 3-pointer from the right elbow late in the fourth quarter when the Jazz were fending off a Memphis run. Paul Millsap looked more comfortable out on the floor as he filled the stat sheet with 13 points, eight rebounds, three steals and two assists.
Centers: Al Jefferson arguably played the best defense of the season and maybe even his career in Jazz uniform. The Grizzlies did not get every basket off the pick-and-roll, and the Jazz held Memphis to just nine points in the third quarter.
Bench: The Jazz bench has been averaging a league-best 54 points per game since the beginning of February. With Hayward in the starting lineup, the bench production went down quite a bit. Derrick Favors led the bench in scoring with 10 points to go with six rebounds and two blocks. The third-year pro's defense irritated the Memphis front court and played a big role in the fourth quarter. Enes Kanter put up eight points in his 10-minute allotment.
Overall: Memphis was on its fifth game in four nights and on the back end of a back-to-back, which means the Jazz needed to beat the Grizzlies because they were a tired team and not necessarily because the Jazz were the better team. The Jazz took care of business defensively against a team that had shut them down offensively in the first two meetings of the season. Hayward proved why he belongs in the starting lineup, while Mo Williams and Millsap continue to look more and more recovered from their respective injuries.
Tyler Huskinson is a freelance journalist who loves to cover sports. You can reach him at email@example.com or follow him on twitter @TDHuskiSports.
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