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Veterans Hustle Jazz To Victory

Jonas Valanciunas #17 of the Memphis Grizzlies struggles for control of the ball between Donovan Mitchell #45 and Rudy Gobert #27 of the Utah Jazz during the second half at FedExForum on November 29, 2019 in Memphis, Tennessee. (Photo by Brandon Dill/Getty Images)

MEMPHIS, Tenn. – The Utah Jazz needed somebody or something to help them out in the 3rd quarter after a pathetic offensive first half. It turned out they needed their veterans to do one specific thing to spark the Jazz in their 103-94 victory over the Grizzlies.

That one thing was hustle.

It sounds pretty simplistic. Right? Utah’s first possession of the 3rd quarter proved to be a harbinger of things to come the rest of the period.

Mike Conley, who had not made a basket in the entire first half, drove to the basket and floated up a shot. He missed, but hustled for the rebound and passed it out to Donovan Mitchell for a made 3-pointer. Memphis’ lead was then 55-43. Conley’s hustle won’t make ESPN SportsCenter’s Top 10 plays, but it showed that Utah was ready for the comeback.

Utah’s defense then got in on the hustle plays beginning with Royce O’Neale.

“I think Royce really set the tone for us,” said Jazz head coach Quin Snyder.

O’Neale stole the ball from rookie sensation Ja Morant but missed the layup. Rudy Gobert was there to tip it in. It was then 55-45 and the Grizzlies head coach Taylor Jenkins called time out. It didn’t make a difference.

The defense kept coming at the young Memphis squad. Donovan Mitchell stayed in front of Dillon Brooks as Brooks tried to hit a short shot. He clanked it off the underside of the rim and the Jazz got possession after the ball bounced out of bounds. That defensive effort eventually led to Mitchell nailing a corner 3 to cut Memphis’ lead to 55-48.

Gobert altered Jaren Jackson, Junior’s shot and blocked Jonas Valanciunas’s follow-up attempt. Mike Conley rewarded Gobert on the opposite end with a pass near the basket which Gobert dumped in for an easy 2.

It was now 55-50.

“They trust each other on defense,” said Snyder. “All the way around we had a lot of energy on defense.”

Rudy’s extended arms proved to be a deterrent for Brooks’ next bank shot which he missed. The guy who started the defensive pressure then put an exclamation mark on Utah’s 12-0 run with another hustle play. O’Neale passed the ball to Donovan Mitchell for a 3-point shot, but then he rushed the rim and no one got in his way.

There was still 9:05 left to go in the 3rd quarter, but Utah had taken over the game due to its savvy and active play on both defense and offense.

“With a group like this, I think it was something they knew they were going to figure out and they did…I think everybody knew, coaches and players alike, that we could play better and they went out and competed and did,” said Snyder.

The Jazz outscored the Grizzlies 35-18 in the period and turned a 15 point half-time deficit into a 2-point advantage. It all started with one simple offensive rebound by the shortest guy on the court.