Jazz Sweep Grizzlies For Fifth Straight Win

Mar 27, 2021, 10:27 PM | Updated: 10:35 pm

Jordan Clarkson - Utah Jazz...

Utah Jazz guard Jordan Clarkson (00) dribbles around Charlotte Hornets forward Miles Bridges (0) during an NBA game at Vivint Smart Home Arena in Salt Lake City on Monday, Feb. 22, 2021. The Jazz won 132-110. (Courtesy of Deseret News)

(Courtesy of Deseret News)

SALT LAKE CITY, Utah – The Utah Jazz beat the Memphis Grizzlies 126-110 to sweep the two-game weekend series, and extend their win streak to five games.

Donovan Mitchell scored 35 points for his second straight night against Memphis while Jordan Clarkson appeared to fully snap out of his recent slump, scoring 28 points off the bench, including 20 in the first half.

The Grizzlies were led by Kyle Anderson who scored 16 points, but the Memphis attack was largely neutralized as the Jazz allowed the young team to shoot just 40 percent from the floor and 27 percent from the three-point line.

Donovan Mitchell Dominance Of Late

Mitchell has punctuated a particularly strong stretch of basketball with an incredible two-game performance against Memphis, combing to score 70 points on 24-40 shooting including 10-14 from the three-point line.

Since the now-infamous “hero-ball” conversation held among some in the Jazz fanbase after the Jazz beat the Houston Rockets on March 12, Mitchell is averaging 30.6 points, 5.8 assists, and 3.6 rebounds while shooting 51 percent from the floor and 46 percent from the three-point line.

The guard has been nearly unguardable over the last eight games, and the Jazz are 6-2 in the stretch. That’s an important sign as Mitchell’s highest-scoring games haven’t always translated to Jazz wins historically, but are now trending in that direction.

“His efficiency this year has been great,” Jazz forward Royce O’Neale said. “Him finding open guys, and just being more comfortable with the shots that they’re giving him.”

After a string of slow starts from the Jazz, Mitchell has found a way to help get the team going early, including scoring 16 points for the Jazz in the opening quarter against Memphis to build a 39-19 lead. The Jazz have now outscored their opponents by 61 points in the last four first quarters.

Mitchell’s scoring has been significant as the team’s supplementary scorers have all suffered off nights since returning from the All-Star break.

On Saturday night Bojan Bogdanovic added just three-points in the blowout win. On Friday, Mike Conley scored just five points before missing Saturday’s game, while Clarkson had struggled throughout the month until the second meeting against Memphis.

Mitchell is not only scoring, but he’s helping the Jazz win when they need him most, and it’s another significant step in his development.

Clarkson Says Good-Bye To His Slump

It appeared that Clarkson had broken through his slump on Friday night against Memphis when he scored nine points in the fourth quarter on 3-4 shooting.

On Saturday, he removed all doubt.

The guard helped carry the Jazz second unit, scoring 28 points on 11-21 shooting, breaking the 20 point plateau for the first time in six games during the first half. Clarkson’s 28 points are his highest total since scoring 40 against the Philadelphia 76ers on February 15, 17 games ago.

Even with Friday’s hot-shooting fourth quarter, the leading Sixth Man of the Year candidate had struggled from three over his last five games. The guard was shooting just 19 percent from downtown on 8.4 attempts per game during the stretch but broke through against the Grizzlies by connecting on 5-12 from deep.

The scoring output was a welcome sign for the Jazz who again saw Bogdanovic go cold from the floor, connecting on just 1-7 field goal attempts.

Unlike Bogdanovic, Clarkson didn’t appear to be overthinking his shot selection during his slump, but couldn’t see the ball find the bottom of the hoop. After seeing a few go in early against the Grizzlies, the guard appears to be back to his old self.

Thomas Makes Debut For Jazz Against Grizzlies

With the Jazz leading by more than 20 through most of the fourth quarter, Quin Snyder was able to turn to his bench for the final six minutes of the game. That included the debut of guard Matt Thomas who the Jazz acquired at Thursday’s trade deadline.

Thomas landed in Utah on Friday morning and was inactive for the Jazz game that night. With no opportunity to shoot around, Thomas checked into his first game in a Jazz uniform without ever going through real practice.

Unfortunately for Thomas, his debut reflected that.

The second-year guard was 0-3 from the floor with three turnovers in 6:32 of floor time. Thomas’s minutes were mostly played alongside rookies Trent Forrest and Elijah Hughes, and little-used Ersan Ilyasova, Juwan Morgan, Miye Oni, and Jarrell Brantley.

“I’m starting to catch on, I had a little walk-through this morning I tried to pick up as much as I could,” Thomas said after the game. “That’s all I’ve gotten so far, and I’m just trying to be a sponge and watch and learn when I’m not in the game.”

Thomas isn’t expected to break the Jazz rotation this season, but it’s fair to assume he’d look better with a few practices under his belt and playing alongside some of the team’s more experienced playmakers.

Until then, judging either his, or Ilyasova’s performances off the bench are a fool’s errand.

The Jazz and Grizzlies will finish their three-game season series on Wednesday on the road in Memphis.

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Jazz Sweep Grizzlies For Fifth Straight Win