by Alma Bean
Feature Image: Photo by Brandon Dill of the Associated Press.
The Utah Jazz (20-22) has a quick turnaround as they play the Memphis Grizzlies (25-13) on the second night of a back-to-back road trip.
Utah’s Spin on Jazz in Music City
Without Ja Morant, seemed like Memphis struggled to find a rhythm early. Shooting 8/21 (38.1%) within the perimeter and 9/28 (32.1%) from the field, looked like Memphis was going to keep this game low scoring. Utah even struggled from the field early shooting 1/7 (14.3%) from the perimeter but had better looks within the perimeter going 9/15 (60%) for the quarter. The highlight of the quarter came from Walker Kessler (10/11/1) who had five blocks in the first quarter, which is his career-high in a game. All five of Kessler’s blocks came between the 4:35 mark to the 31-second mark of the first quarter. With this defensive effort, Utah was able to finish the quarter with a one-point lead 24-23.
Utah Jazz on Twitter: “Blocker Kessler in the first quarter: ❌ ❌ ❌ ❌ ❌ (that’s a career-high) #TakeNote | @WalkerKessler13 https://t.co/W1mR1sRpxm” / Twitter
The second quarter was pure Memphis domination. Though Utah didn’t play a bad offensive quarter on paper shooting 11/19 (57.9%) from the field, Memphis shot lights out with no free throw attempts. First off, Memphis went 7/10 (70%) from the perimeter but Utah’s inability to get rebounds and play transition defense contributed to Memphis’ success. Going into the half Utah allowed 10 offensive rebounds, 17 second-chance points, and 12 turnovers resulting in 13 points for Memphis. Memphis was able to spread points across the court for themselves outscoring Utah 43-28 for the quarter. This led to Memphis going into the half with a 63-52 lead.
Utah Jazz on Twitter: “VANDO U N K #TakeNote | @JVando https://t.co/A75kgn97f3” / Twitter
It’s All Right, It Just Happened.
Even though Utah was able to do a few things to benefit the team like taking off on a 10-2 run while limiting Memphis to 1/5 (20%) shooting at this point, seemed like it was all overshadowed. With just five seconds left in the quarter, Jordan Clarkson (17/2/3) was ejected for a hit to the head of Desmond Bane (24/6/9). With the contact, Jaren Jackson Jr. (19 points and 8 rebounds) had a few words for Clarkson and he responded by raising his fists. The referees were able to dissolve the situation very quickly. Clarkson received a flagrant type 2 foul leading to an immediate ejection. Clarkson even taunted a few fans during his exit with a fake high-five going to the locker room. Nickeil Alexander-Walker (11/2/4) was able to get a quick bucket before the end of the quarter but still trailed 96-90.
Utah Jazz on Twitter: “☮️ flame on, game on ☮️ #TakeNote | @jordanclarksons https://t.co/f1FuLVhY65” / Twitter
Without Clarkson to finish the fourth quarter, Utah had to rely on the rotational players to try and come out with a win. Memphis’ ability to hit more shots from the perimeter put Utah in a tough position. Though it didn’t till later in the quarter, Utah gained a little relief when Jackson Jr. picked up his sixth foul to get Lauri Markkanen (21/8/1) to the line to get over 20 points for the game. Looked as if Utah was going to close out the game without Mike Conley (7 points and 8 assists) but brought him in with 3:43 left in the game. Though Utah got things within four points late in the game, Memphis was able to pull away with a 123-118 win.
Utah Jazz on Twitter: “41 snags the +1 that’s 19 for Kelly 🇨🇦 #TakeNote https://t.co/VQmtdXEUkY” / Twitter
Utah will be looking forward to their next stretch of games as their next 11 of 13 games will be at home, with only one back-to-back during that timeframe. Utah’s next game will be against Donovan Mitchell and the Cleveland Cavaliers on Tuesday in Mitchell’s first return to Utah since he was traded this past offseason.