The Utah Jazz (31-30) and the Memphis Grizzlies (35-24) locked horns in an intense, back-and-forth game Saturday night. Behind a dominant 33-22 fourth quarter, it was Memphis who emerged victorious, 103-98.
Guards: Utah’s starting backcourt of Devin Harris and Gordon Hayward played dramatically better Saturday, and it stemmed from aggressiveness and energy. Harris set the tone, scoring Utah’s first eight points en route to 20 total points and six assists. Hayward produced another all-around performance with 17 points, five assists and four rebounds. That said, they struggled defensively as Memphis guards Mike Conley and O.J. Mayo combined for 37 points themselves, including some dagger 3-pointers by Mayo down the stretch. GRADE: B
Forwards: Paul Millsap continues to give it his all, despite a lingering wrist injury. Playing more minutes at small forward, he put up 17 points and seven rebounds. Derrick Favors turned in his third consecutive double-double, totaling 10 points and 14 rebounds. The Utah forwards, however, had no answer for Grizzlies forward Rudy Gay, who paced Memphis with 26 points and 12 boards. GRADE: B+
Centers: Al Jefferson was very active offensively, shooting a stellar 10-of-17 from the field for 20 points, eight rebounds and four assists. He also did a decent job against all-star Marc Gasol, who still rattled off 17 points and nine boards. Enes Kanter had just two points. GRADE: B
Bench: Utah head coach Tyrone Corbin relied heavily on his starters, and as a result, the reserves other than Favors played just 41 minutes. They were not much of a factor, whereas Memphis' bench was huge. The Grizzlies' reserves scored 33 points. Blake Ahearn made his Utah Jazz debut, playing solid in a five-minute cameo. GRADE: C
Overall: There was a huge free-throw disparity in the Grizzlies’ favor, but the Jazz shot themselves in the foot with some costly errors in the fourth quarter — clanked free throws, missed defensive rotations and tough turnovers. Utah was so high just 30 hours ago. Disheartening back-to-back loses brought them back down. GRADE: B-
David Smith is providing instant analysis for Deseret News' Utah Jazz coverage this season. He works for LDS Philanthropies and also blogs for the Utah Jazz 360 website. He can be reached at [email protected] or on Twitter at davidjsmith1232.