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Utah Jazz Instant Analysis: Trio of Memphis vets too much for the Jazz

By David Smith

For the Deseret News

Published: Wednesday, March 19 2014 10:30 p.m. MDT

Memphis Grizzlies guard Mike Conley, top, dives for a loose ball against Utah Jazz forward Gordon Hayward in the second half of an NBA basketball game on Wednesday, March 19, 2014, in Memphis, Tenn. The Grizzlies won 96-86. (AP Photo/Lance Murphey)

Lance Murphey, AP

After three tough games against three tough opponents, the Utah Jazz finished up a disappointing road trip without a win. After a sizeable deficit, the Utah Jazz mounted a comeback in the second half, only to come up short. The Memphis Grizzlies did what they needed to down the stretch to escape with a 96-86 victory Wednesday night.

Thanks to its strong veteran core, Memphis made the plays it needed to in the fourth quarter. Utah battled back to tie the game at 84-84, only to see the Grizzlies go on a 6-0 run that ultimately determined the game’s outcome.

After the difficult road trip, the Jazz have a brief respite before their Saturday matchup with the Orlando Magic.

Big three: As expected, Memphis’ trio of leaders of Marc Gasol, Mike Conley Jr. and Zach Randolph came through to help seal the win. Gasol exhibited his all-around abilities with 20 points, 10 rebounds, three assists and four blocked shots. The All-Star center played his usual stout defense against Utah’s young frontcourt.

Conley orchestrated a strong Memphis offense all evening. His heady decisions help determine the end result. He finished nearly at his season averages by tallying 18 assists, seven assists and three steals. Last but not least, Randolph quietly put up 21 points and 11 rebounds.

The trio finished with a combined 59 points, 25 boards and 13 assists.

Guard-heavy offense: Utah turned to its backcourt for most of its offense. Alec Burks, Trey Burke and Gordon Hayward combined for 48 of the Jazz’s 86 points. Hayward, in particular, stepped things up in the second half. His combination of scoring and passing almost brought Utah all the back. Burke and Burks made great contributions throughout the outing.

Odds and ends:

-- Until the third quarter vs. Memphis, the Jazz had been outscored in 13 consecutive quarters dating back to their loss to the Los Angeles Clippers three games earlier.

- Former Utah first-round draft pick Kosta Koufos has become a consistent performer the past three seasons. The center, in relief of his Memphis front court teammates, had seven points and seven rebounds in just 14 minutes.

- With a team-high 12 rebounds, Enes Kanter had his fourth double-figure board total in five games.

David Smith provides instant analysis for Deseret News' Utah Jazz coverage. He works for LDS Philanthropies and also writes for Salt City Hoops (ESPN's Jazz affiliate). He can be reached at mechakucha1@gmail.com or on Twitter at davidjsmith1232.

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