MEMPHIS, Tenn. — The Utah Jazz turned their first road trip of the 2012-13 NBA season into a Goodwill Tour.
They went to New Orleans, San Antonio and Memphis.
Locals left happy.
That was again the case Monday when the Jazz helped please a FedEx Forum crowd of 17,401 with a second-half meltdown in a 103-94 loss to the Memphis Grizzlies.
At this rate — and the way they're playing — the Jazz might gather an impressive collection of honorary city keys from around the continent before the brutal road-heavy portion of their schedule ends.
"It's disappointing," Jazz coach Tyrone Corbin said after his team fell to 1-3. "You come out and lose three ballgames, and we're able to be in all three ballgames. We just weren't able to finish them off."
And more joy was spread around.
That isn't exactly how the Jazz envisioned beginning the season, which includes a rough stretch of 12-of-18 away games.
"I think it was very surprising for us. Maybe it was what we needed," Jazz shooting guard Gordon Hayward said. "After that first home win, I think maybe we were a little bit too high on ourselves, and so this knocks us down a little bit. We've got to use this (as) a stepping stone, improve from this, grow from it and move on."
The disconcerting trend for Utah is made all the worse when considering the Jazz host the Los Angeles Lakers on Wednesday and then play five of their next seven outside the Beehive State.
"It's too early to get down," Jazz point guard Mo Williams said. "We want to just take a positive and continue to do the things that we need to do to get wins."
For a change, the Jazz liked the way they started after throwing a wet towel on Memphis' fiery pregame show by bursting out to an early 19-7 lead.
But after that encouraging beginning, everything was a bit off for the Jazz — from their shooting (44.4 percent) and their rebounding (51-42 deficit on the boards) to their pattern of strong third quarters.
Memphis (2-1) took a page from Utah's second-half playbook, pushing the Jazz around for a 27-18 advantage in the third to seize control.
An 8-0 Grizzlies run at the end of the third gave the home team another reason to celebrate on this night in which NBA commissioner David Stern attended to welcome the team's new ownership group to the league.
"We stopped executing," Hayward said. "We stopped doing what we did to get us where we were at."
Hayward led the Jazz in scoring for the first time this season with 19 points. Six Utah players finished in double figures, including a strong bench outing from Derrick Favors (14 points, eight rebounds) and a double-double for Al Jefferson (11 points, 10 rebounds).
For the second game in a row, Corbin tried a variety of lineup alterations in hopes of finding elusive road success.
Backups Jamaal Tinsley and DeMarre Carroll didn't play for the first time, while Utah fan favorites Alec Burks and Jeremy Evans saw action for only the second time.
Corbin also ended the game with the Big Three lineup of Big Al, Paul Millsap and Favors, hoping to counter Memphis' aggressive and physical play.
"We're still trying to figure things out," Williams said. "It's going to click sooner rather than later. We want to continue to strive to get better."
As they've done in all of their losses, the Jazz showed fight despite futile results.
Utah was within striking distance with three minutes to go, trailing by seven with possession of the ball after Jefferson blocked Marc Gasol's shot.
But Zach Randolph (16 points, 18 rebounds) snuck up behind Jefferson and poked the ball away to Mike Conley, who hit a 3-pointer to put Memphis back into double-digit lead territory.
Jefferson pleaded for a foul call.
But it didn't come, and that ended up being as close as the Jazz could get.
"It's a big possession," Corbin said. "We had some opportunities. We just didn't take advantage of it."
Much to the delight of different Southern audiences, that's a song the Jazz played three times in different cities since Friday.
NOTES: Millsap improved to 5 for 5 on the season in 3-point shooting by hitting both attempts from long range before fouling out. The Jazz were outscored 85-69 after taking a 25-18 lead after the first quarter. Mo Williams dished out eight assists. Gasol finished with 22 points, eight rebounds and a Flagrant 1 foul for tackling Randy Foye with 3.4 seconds left.
EMAIL: [email protected]