The Utah Jazz once again learned the importance of playing the entire 48 minutes. After controlling the pace and feel of the matchup for most of the game, the veteran-laden Memphis Grizzlies snatched a 91-87 win away from the youthful Jazz squad.
On a late, nationally televised game, the Utah Jazz came out with solid energy and teamwork on both ends of the court. On defense, they were doing just enough to bother the Grizzlies into missing many shots they normally make. On the other side of things, Utah was unselfish and as a result, the offense flowed smoothly. The extra passes produced open shots. This continued until the last six minutes or so.
It was then that Memphis exhibited calm, clutch play down the stretch. Facing a 16-point deficit, it outscored its counterpart 14-3 and stole a much-needed win. In a heated battle for the lower half of the Western Conference playoff slots, every game has heightened meaning.
For the Jazz, the loss maintains the fourth-worst record in the NBA.
Trio of leaders: As was the case in the two teams’ recent outing, the trio of Marc Gasol, Zach Randolph and Mike Conley Jr. led the Grizzlies to victory. It is this same threesome that has propelled Memphis from a stagnant start to the season to a strong finish.
Gasol picked up two fouls midway through the first quarter, which opened up the way for Utah to pounce. Not surprisingly, his play down the stretch brought the Grizzlies back. The All-Star center tallied 18 points, seven rebounds and four assists. Enes Kanter caused him problems early on, but Gasol ended up getting the best of the matchup in the fourth quarter.
Randolph is always a tough assignment, which was indeed the case Wednesday. On a variety of offensive moves inside and out, he notched 22 points and collected 13 rebounds. Conley quietly had a 19-point, six-assist outing, which is a typical evening for the point guard.
Kanter’s rebounding: Enes Kanter is on a tear when it comes to rebounding. Against Memphis, he grabbed 10 boards in the first half and ultimately tied a career-high with 15. This marked the 13th consecutive game where the Turkish big man had eight or more rebounds.
This and that:
• Utah point guard Trey Burke had six assists in the first quarter and ended with 10, securing a double-double along the way.
• Derrick Favors was extremely impressive, especially in facing a tough Memphis front line. He made 10 of 16 shots and had 22 points and 10 rebounds in the end.
• Memphis guards Courtney Lee and Tony Allen combined to miss all seven of their field goal attempts, going scoreless along the way.
• Jazz head coach Tyrone Corbin only played seven players in the first half, with an eighth finally playing a patch in the third quarter.
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 firstname.lastname@example.org or on Twitter at davidjsmith1232.
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