Jazz Survive Grizzlies Attack, Prepare For Rematch
Mar 26, 2021, 10:55 PM | Updated: Mar 27, 2021, 9:28 am
(Photo by Alex Goodlett/Getty Images)
SALT LAKE CITY, Utah – The Utah Jazz could have given themselves some extra rest on the first night of back-to-back games, but a strong surge from the scrappy Memphis Grizzlies forced the Jazz to play a full 48 minutes before winning 117-114.
The Jazz led by as much as 21 early in the third quarter, but the Grizzlies closed the deficit to only three with 34 seconds left before a series of stops secured the victory for the home team.
The two teams will play against tomorrow night in Salt Lake City before another meeting with Memphis on Wednesday.
— KSL Sports (@kslsports) March 27, 2021
Small Grizzles Big Comeback
The Grizzlies’ best basketball of the night came when they chose to play small, taking center Jonas Valanciunas off the floor and playing Brandon Clarke at the five, especially in the second half.
Over the final two quarters, Memphis outscored the Jazz by 12 with Clarke in at center, even though he played a total of only 7:51 in the second half. A stray elbow from Jordan Clarkson caught Clarke on the chin which ultimately sent him back to the locker room.
With Valanciunas in the lineup, Memphis was only +1 in the second half, despite outscoring the Jazz by a total of 13 points.
— Memphis Grizzlies (@memgrizz) March 27, 2021
When Memphis went small, they were able to switch on the Jazz perimeter scorers, making it difficult for them to get into the paint, and as a result, the Grizzlies were able to get out and run in transition.
“More than anything, it’s getting back and being alert,” Snyder said f the Jazz transition defense. “Knowing who we’re guarding, if we have to get crossmatched, just talking to each other.”
Assuming Clarke’s injury isn’t anything serious, it won’t be a surprise if the Grizzlies rely more heavily on him to combat the Jazz dangerous perimeter scoring.
One solution the Jazz can turn to however is to simply play Rudy Gobert more. The Jazz outscored Memphis by 10 points in Gobert’s 32 minutes on the floor and were outscored by seven while he rested.
Mike Conley’s Big Plays On A Bad Night
One look at Mike Conley’s stat sheet and it’s not hard to deduce he had a rough outing. The veteran scored just five points on 2-13 shooting including 1-6 from three.
However, in typical Conley fashion, the Jazz were 11 points better than Memphis when he was on the floor, good for third-best on the team.
A big part of Conley’s positive plus-minus came as a result of his willingness to make winning plays, especially late in the game.
With 1:32 left in the game and the Jazz leading by six, Conley dove on the floor to retrieve a Donovan Mitchell loose ball, leading to a timeout from Snyder. Out of the timeout, Mitchell made a layup to extend the lead back to eight.
— utahjazz (@utahjazz) March 27, 2021
On the Grizzlies’ final possession with 13 seconds left to play and the Jazz leading by three, Conley grabbed the rebound on a missed Memphis three-pointer with 1.9 seconds left to play.
After Ja Morant tied Conley up forcing a jump ball could have given the Grizzlies a final chance to tie the game at 107, the Jazz veteran stole the jump ball and sealing the Jazz victory.
“The shot wasn’t necessarily falling,” Mitchell said of Conley, “But he was back there directing traffic, getting stops, sliding his feet, and also coming up with the rebound. To jump with a guy like Ja Morant, that’s impressive.”
The Jazz are unquestionably one of the most talented teams in the NBA, but they’ll have to prove they can make winning plays in the postseason against better competition. At 33-years-old, Conley proved he was willing to sacrifice his body for the win, and it should set the tone for his teammates.
Clarkson Finds Rhythm In Fourth Quarter
After the Jazz blowout win over Brooklyn on Wednesday, I wrote about Jordan Clarkson’s struggles throughout March.
For the month, the guard is averaging 12.5 points per game, shooting just 33 percent from the floor and 29 percent from the three-point line.
Those numbers took a bigger hit against Memphis as Clarkson started the game just 1-10 through the early minutes of the fourth quarter before finally finding his rhythm.
big mood pic.twitter.com/yyOAhK5iEJ
— utahjazz (@utahjazz) March 27, 2021
Over Clarkson’s final five and a half minutes on the floor, the guard connected on all three of his field-goal attempts including two three-point attempts to score nine points.
“I’ve just got to keep continuing to play free, take the shots that are there and keep staying aggressive,” Clarkson said of his approach. “You know that’s going to happen over a season where you kind of go into a little slump.”
Despite Clarkson’s recent lull, the guard made sure to extend his streak of games with a three-pointer made to 70. With the make, Clarkson tied Steph Curry for the 14th longest streak in NBA history, and the longest for any Jazzman.
He still has a ways to go before breaking the NBA record, unsurprisingly held by Curry at 157 total games.
The Jazz and Grizzlies will tip-off again tomorrow at 7 pm.
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