Grizzlies Steal Game One From Ice Cold Jazz

May 23, 2021, 11:36 PM

Joe Ingles of the Utah Jazz defends Kyle Anderson of the Memphis Grizzlies (Photo by Alex Goodlett/...

Joe Ingles of the Utah Jazz defends Kyle Anderson of the Memphis Grizzlies (Photo by Alex Goodlett/Getty Images)

(Photo by Alex Goodlett/Getty Images)

SALT LAKE CITY, Utah – The rain outside Vivint Arena was just about the only thing falling in Utah as the Jazz fell to the Memphis Grizzlies 112-109 in one of the team’s worst shooting performances of the season.

Bojan Bogdanovic carried the Jazz who erased a 17 point fourth quarter deficit, trimming Memphis’ lead to just one with six seconds left to play, but missed a game-tying three-pointer on the final possession of the game.

Dillon Brooks led all scorers with 31 points as the Grizzlies wrestled away home-court advantage from the Jazz, becoming just the fifth team to win a game in Utah this season.

Jazz Go Cold In Playoff Opener

The Jazz had their second-worst three-point shooting night of the season, connecting on just 12-47 of their attempts. The 25.5 percent of their threes barely edged their 25 percent outing against the Phoenix Suns on April 7, while their 12 makes was tied for their third-fewest of the season.

The Jazz opened the game with back to back threes from Joe Ingles and Royce O’Neale in the first 65 seconds of the game but missed 13 of their next 14 three-point attempts over the following 20 minutes of floor time allowing the Grizzlies to build a 49-43 lead at the half.

After holding Memphis to just 17 first-quarter points, the Grizzlies scored 32 points in the second quarter to take a lead that they wouldn’t relinquish over the final 24 minutes of the game.

While the starters finished a reasonable 11-32 from the three-point line, the Jazz second unit shot just 1-15 from deep, including 0-8 from Jordan Clarkson in the loss.

Despite the poor shooting night, coach Quin Snyder wants the team to keep hoisting threes.

“Those were clean books,” Snyder said of reserve Georges Niang’s 1-6 three-point outing. “If he stopped shooting those shots, I’m mad at him because we make those shots.”

Mike Conley had two open looks against his former team late in the fourth quarter that could have trimmed the Grizzlies’ lead even further but missed both, leading to Ja Morant layups on the other end.

While it’s unlikely the Jazz will continue to shoot so poorly in the playoffs, it’s a stark reminder of how easy it is to lose a game to a lower seed when the offense is so dependent on the three-point shot.

Jazz Fail To Execute For First Three Quarters

If the poor shooting wasn’t to blame, the Jazz can look at their execution over the first three quarters of the game as the cause for their loss.

The Jazz committed all 14 of their turnovers over the first 36 minutes of the game, resulting in 12 fast break points for the Grizzlies. Memphis recorded 12 steals against the Jazz, leading to easy live ball takeaways heading the other direction and easy baskets in transition.

“We’ve talked about competing and executing,” Snyder said after the game. “I thought we competed, I didn’t think we executed on the level that we need to in this moment in the playoffs.”

Bogdanovic and Clarkson combined for eight turnovers, far too many for a team that relied extra on the two shot creators without guard Donovan Mitchell in the lineup.

The Jazz didn’t commit any turnovers over the final 12 minutes of the game and nearly wound up with the victory as a result.

“Down 17, we got back in the game just by playing our game and executing,” Rudy Gobert said. “There’s some moments when we got distracted, we weren’t connected and we turned the ball over.”

Gobert finished the game with 11 points, 15 rebounds, and three blocks, but fouled out for the first time all season.

Jazz Missed Donovan Mitchell Vs. Grizzlies

While it was a question mark how the Jazz would use Mitchell in his return, it was clear the team missed having him in the lineup in their game one loss to Memphis.

The Jazz turnovers at the hands of Bogdanovic and Clarkson were reminders of Mitchell’s value, not just as a playmaker, but for his ability to create shots for himself.

Not only do eight turnovers lead to easy baskets going the other way, but they also result in eight fewer field goal attempts for a Jazz offense that couldn’t find its shooting flow.

“Obviously that’s tough on our team, we’re expecting the guy back,” Conley said of Mitchel’s bizarre late scratch from the lineup. “But we’ve played this season with guys in and out the lineup all year so that’s no excuse.”

Mitchell was cleared to return for the Jazz earlier this week and didn’t show up on the Jazz injury report Saturday night, but late Sunday afternoon the team announced team trainers weren’t comfortable with the condition of the guard’s ankle.

Snyder said Mitchell would be re-examined on a day-to-day basis going forward.

Though the Jazz played strong basketball during the final quarter, it was clear they missed their go-to scorer.

While Conley, O’Neale, and Bogdanovic missed the Jazz final three field-goal attempts of the game, Memphis was able to repeatedly call Morant’s number late in the game.

Morant scored 10 of his 26 points in the final quarter, all of which came in the final 5:31 of the game. If the Jazz don’t see Mitchell return to the floor in game two, they might struggle to close games in his absence.

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Grizzlies Steal Game One From Ice Cold Jazz