by Daniel Olsen
The Jazz held all the momentum in the first half and survived a a late surge from the Grizzlies’ side as they pulled off a 117-114 victory. This is the first night of a doubleheader with the visiting team from Memphis.
First Quarter Flurries
Joe Ingles made the most important shot of the first quarter. With just over two minutes to go, the Jazz called their first timeout of the game up 28-22. After a couple traded baskets, Ingles decided it was time to let it fly. He sinked a three-pointer to put the Jazz up 33-24. It proved to be contagious. The quarter would end with another three by Georges Niang and an off-balance dunk by Rudy Gobert.
Second Quarter Smoothies
The Jazz did well at limiting transition buckets for at least most of the first half which is something the Grizzlies do well. Ja Morant is an athletic young star that can’t shoot the ball consistently yet from outside. However, he usually gets to the rim with ease. The Jazz threw plenty of bodies at him and forced him either into bad possessions. He would either get blocked, shoot a bad shot, or get fouled.
Once again, Ingles came to the rescue with the biggest shot of this quarter. It was early in the second quarter and the Jazz had let the lead quickly get cut to 38-28. Ingles found his way into the lane for an easy layup to give the Jazz their first points of the quarter.
The Jazz would go into halftime ahead by 16 points with a score of 66-50 over the visitors. It seemed like another game where the Jazz would comfortably win and rest their starters. All seemed to be right with the world.
Third Quarter Concerns
Things aren’t always as they seem. It’s usually not cool to blame the refs and Jazz fans are just as guilty as anyone. However, this game seemed way more egregious than the 76ers game that Jazz fans were all up in arms about before the All-Star break. While the free throw distribution was even at 18 free throws for each team, there seemed to be quite a bit of contact at the expense of Jazz players that the refs swallowed their whistles on. On the other end, they made questionable calls where there appeared to be little to no contact on some possessions. While this carried into the fourth quarter, this is the takeaway from the third quarter. The Jazz made their fair share of mistakes too and let the Grizzlies get their transition game going. At the end of the third quarter, the score was now in single-digits with the Jazz still in front 88-79.
Fourth Quarter: Donovan Mitchell Dominates
The main theme of this quarter was how much Donovan Mitchell dominated. While he did well throughout the game, he made timely threes throughout the fourth quarter and seemed to rise in confidence as each shot fell through the bottom of the net. The Jazz reached a point were they hadn’t hit a field goal in over three minutes and were desperate for a shot. Mitchell did a good job at getting to the free throw line during this stretch though.
With three minutes to go, it was crunch time. Mitchell answered former teammate Grayson Allen’s three with a downtown swish of his own. He then did the same following a Dillon Brooks three less than a minute later. This kept the Grizzlies at arm’s length for a moment as the Jazz were ahead by nine points with two minutes to go.
The rest of the game was ugly as the refs let the game get very physical and most of the shots down the final two minute stretch were a few free throws. The game ended on a jump ball with two seconds left. The Jazz got the tip as time expired and won the game in unique fashion.
This was one of the more “Jekyll and Hyde” Jazz games of the season. Fortunately, the Jazz didn’t let the big lead turn into a loss and will survive another day. They will take on this same Grizzlies team on Saturday night at 7 PM Mountain Time. They will need to be on top of their game for all 48 minutes to get the sweep at home.
• Mitchell continues to impress with his high-scoring affairs. He has averaged 33 points in his last five games.
• Gobert continues his newly found smooth stroke from the free throw line. His free throw streak ended at nine as he finally missed one to finish the night 3-4. He is shooting 60 percent from the charity stripe on the season but until tonight hadn’t missed since the Toronto game one week ago.
• Jordan Clarkson had a rough night overall but hit a couple threes at the end of the game. He has now made at least one three in 70 consecutive games which ties one of Stephen Curry’s streaks for the 13th longest in NBA history.
• While Mike Conley did not shoot well against his former team, he did have the best value added of any Jazz starter at plus 12 for the night.
• With the win, the Jazz have won 18 straight home games and are 18-2 overall on the season. They are also 18-0 in the calendar year of 2021 in Vivint Arena.
• With the win, the Jazz have now beaten 25 of the 30 NBA franchises at least once this NBA season.
• The Jazz won the regular season series last year over Memphis 3-1 by winning their final three games after last losing to them on November 15, 2019.
Featured image courtesy Russell Isabella-USA TODAY Sports