MEMPHIS — Utah Jazz teammates Rudy Gobert and Jae Crowder engaged in casual conversation ahead of Monday’s shootaround at FedExForum.
“Man, we need this win,” Crowder told Gobert.
After already falling to the Memphis Grizzlies twice at home in the same regular season for just the fourth time in franchise history, the Jazz players wanted to make a statement in their first stop of a five-game road trip on Veterans Day.
“We feel like these guys came in our house and took two wins from us,” Crowder said beforehand. “They did it respectively with playing hard and playing the way they wanted to play.
“They dictated the whole game, both games and we have to come in here and do what we do and dictate the game and take this win,” he continued. “We definitely feel like it’s a sense of urgency of getting this win against these guys.”
In another ugly matchup, where both teams shot below 42 percent from the field, combined for 31 turnovers and committed 53 total personal fouls, Utah somehow managed to come out on top, 96-88, to win their third consecutive contest.
“We haven’t been as good of a defensive team as we want to be, they are that and both teams compete,” said Jazz coach Quin Snyder.
Memphis predicted the Jazz to make adjustments and that’s exactly what happened.
Instead of starting the game with Rudy Gobert checking Marc Gasol, they switched Derrick Favors on him and made Gobert check Grizzlies rookie Jaren Jackson Jr. to keep the reigning Defensive Player of the Year closer to the rim and out of pick-and-roll coverage.
Gobert would post all 15 of his points in the second half to go along with 16 rebounds and three blocks after picking up his third personal at 7:57 in the second quarter off a loose ball foul.
“That’s the problem with looking at Rudy’s game with whether he scores or not because what Rudy did in the first half was basically the way a guard will dribble in the paint and kick it out for a lob to Rudy,” said Jazz coach Quin Snyder. “They were packing it in and he kept rolling and kept playing and then he’s rewarded with baskets in the second half. He did his job.”
On a night where Donovan Mitchell, Ricky Rubio, Jae Crowder and Alec Burks combined to shoot 11-for-46 from the field, Dante Exum, Favors and Joe Ingles stepped up to provide big minutes.
Favors went 4-for-5 for 12 points and eight rebounds while Exum relished the challenge of pressuring Grizzlies guards Mike Conley and Shelvin Mack defensively while contributing nine points in 20 minutes.
During Friday’s emotional 123-115 win against Boston for ex-Jazzman Gordon Hayward’s return, Exum played just three minutes but didn’t let it bother him.
“He’s so young and so talented and I think defensively for him is a huge part of his game,” Ingles said of Exum. “He kind of started that picking up full court and everyone else feels pretty good and it just kind of gets the group going and then he was able to get himself going offensively from getting some stops.”
Although Conley would end with a game-high 24 points while Gasol added 16 points, five rebounds and two swats, Ingles was certainly the star of the night.
Not only were his 19 points, six rebounds and five assists impressive, Ingles returned from being cut above the left eye by MarShon Brooks at 3:36 on the follow through of a cross-court pass to post seven fourth-quarter points with a bandaged wrap around his head that looked like a headband. Afterward he received at least four stitches and instantly drew praise among Jazz Nation on social media for his new look.
“That’s what I’ve been striving for my whole life,” Ingles joked of trending on social media with his new look. “I made it to 31 with no stitches so trend that, too.”
The Jazz-Memphis matchup became so physical that Ingles joked about never coming back to FedExForum. In the waning seconds, he was nearly toppled by Gasol on a late play where he turned to Snyder and yelled ‘Aye, get me out of the game’ before splitting a pair of free throws at the line.
“I just wanted to win the game,” Ingles said. “We were playing well and I just wanted to go back in so I told (athletic trainer) Eric (Waters) to wrap it up as quick as possible.”5 comments on this story
Although the win was gutsy, Snyder says it’s what’s expected as the Jazz now prepare for a Wednesday matchup at Dallas. With the victory, Utah (7-6) also became the first team to beat Memphis at home while forcing them to commit more turnovers than their opponent for the first time all season.
“Well to be honest with you, I’m happy he did it but that’s our expectation,” Snyder said of Ingles. “That’s his expectation and we’ve got to be a tough team and that’s the norm. I’m proud of him, happy for him and happy for us.”