Utah Jazz report card: Centers play well, but Jazz falter late in loss to Memphis
Scott G Winterton, Deseret News
SALT LAKE CITY — Despite a 16-point lead in the third quarter, the Utah Jazz weren't able to pull out a home win on national television, dropping a close contest to the Memphis Grizzlies 91-87 Wednesday night at EnergySolutions Arena.
That double-digit lead the Jazz had, which existed throughout the majority of the game, faded quickly in the fourth quarter. The lead evaporated on a Mike Miller 3-pointer with less than three minutes left in regulation to tie the game. Memphis never trailed after that bucket.
However, the Jazz played considerably better at home than Monday's disappointing 114-94 loss to Detroit. Utah's big men played well against the Grizzlies' tough frontcourt, and three players finished with double-doubles for the Jazz.
It just wasn't enough to stop Memphis Wednesday night.
Gordon Hayward ended up with 18 points, while Trey Burke finished with a double-double with 11 points and 10 assists, including six assists in the first quarter. Overall, the Jazz guards played pretty solidly, but did combine for eight turnovers — some of which were unforced. Hayward picked up three steals in the second half and ran well to finish off fast-break opportunities with points. However, one bad rotation defensively allowed Mike Miller to connect on the game-tying 3-pointer with less than three minutes left in the game.
Richard Jefferson hit some threes while Marvin Williams was relatively quiet off the bench. Considering Favors (who I identify as a center even when on the court with Enes Kanter) was matched up on Zach Randolph, forwards really didn’t impact this game.
Once again, coach Tyrone Corbin went with the twin towers (Derrick Favors and Enes Kanter) in the starting lineup, and it paid dividends. Each finished with double-doubles. Favors led the Jazz in scoring with 22 points, while Kanter had a team-high 15 rebounds — 12 at halftime. Favors played defensively like his usual self, while Kanter played relatively good defense in a losing effort. Overall, the lifeblood of the Jazz seemed to be through the centers during the game. However, when that disappeared, so did the lead.
Utah was without Alec Burks yet again with his ankle injury, thus the Jazz only went with three off the bench. Those three combined for 10 points and four rebounds in around 54 minutes. The bench was rather quiet on the floor in the game.
Tyrone Corbin went with his twin-towers package to counter Memphis’ tough inside presence of Zach Randolph and Marc Gasol. Those two combined to produce about the same numbers to cancel each other out. Corbin decided to run his starters through most of the game, but one would wonder why Richard Jefferson, who was 3-of-5 from downtown in the game, wasn’t on the floor earlier when the Jazz needed a three to tie.
Memphis fell behind early and trailed almost the entire game. It was a 16-point game at one point in the third quarter, but the Grizzlies didn’t worry. They played smart basketball to get back in the game, then closed out the game on an 11-3 run to finish the deal. Both Randolph and Gasol played pretty well, while Mike Conley was extremely productive when he was on the court too. The Grizzlies' bench didn’t produce huge numbers, but the guys that did play off the bench chipped in with 28 points. Memphis didn’t play great but played just well enough to win.
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