Jazz Get Most Important Win Of Season Over Grizzlies

Apr 5, 2022, 11:55 PM | Updated: 11:56 pm
Utah Jazz forward Danuel House Jr. (Photo by Alex Goodlett/Getty Images)...
Utah Jazz forward Danuel House Jr. (Photo by Alex Goodlett/Getty Images)
(Photo by Alex Goodlett/Getty Images)

SALT LAKE CITY – The Utah Jazz saw a near-total reversal of roles in their playoff-clinching win over the Memphis Grizzlies on Tuesday night.

The Jazz overcame a double-digit second-half deficit, watched the Grizzlies fail to execute in the clutch, and used their defense to stifle a dangerous Memphis offense.

Rudy Gobert recorded a 22 point, 21 rebound double-double while Jordan Clarkson scored 22 points in the win.

Jazz Fix Some Recent Ills

The Jazz had lost six of their last seven games entering Tuesday night, several of which featured a similar formula — repeated blown leads, bad turnovers in the clutch, and poor defensive rebounding.

Against the Grizzlies, the Jazz were able to fix those issues when it mattered most.

The Jazz trailed the Grizzlies by 11 with eight minutes left to play in the third quarter but closed the period on a 26-15 run to knot the game up heading into the fourth quarter.

In the fourth quarter, the Jazz turned the ball over only twice in the final 12 minutes while Memphis committed three giveaways. The Jazz scored eight fast-break points in the quarter while the Grizzlies went scoreless on two opportunities.

Memphis did beat the Jazz again on the glass snagging two offensive rebounds, but they scored only two second-chance points, ultimately not enough to win the game.

Those are terrific signs for a team that badly needed a win, and they got it by fixing some of their recent issues.

It wasn’t all roses for the Jazz, however.

The team missed 11-19 free throws in the fourth quarter, including a 1-7 stretch over a three-and-a-half-minute period midway through the period.

Had the Jazz made even one of those free throws they could have avoided overtime altogether.

And while the Jazz only allowed two second-chance points in the quarter, it was the two points they could least afford to give up with Kyle Anderson putting back a Desmond Bane miss at the buzzer to send the game to overtime.

Royce O’Neale who had been taken out of the game late in the fourth quarter in favor of Danuel House Jr. was back on the court for the final possession and lost track of the ball as it fell into Anderson’s hands for the putback.

O’Neale finished the night shooting 2-5 from the floor for six points, but was a team-worst -13 in 24 minutes of action.

House Jr. on the other hand scored nine points on 3-8 shooting and was the key alongside Jordan Clarkson to the Jazz comeback in the third quarter. The two bench players were both a team-high +17 at the end of the game.

Donovan Mitchell also struggled offensively throughout the night scoring 20 points on 6-24 shooing. The guard shot just 2-10 in the fourth quarter and overtime despite his role as the Jazz go-to scoring option.

The Jazz also led by nine points with 7:43 left to play, eight with 4:51 left to play, and four with 35 seconds left to play, and still needed overtime time to win the game. Clearly, they haven’t completely figured out how to close games in regulation.

Despite the struggles, the Jazz got a much-needed win on the most important night of the season. That’s a solid building block for a team that has been searching for answers for much of the last three months.

Jazz Clinch Playoff Spot

With the win, the Jazz guaranteed themselves a spot in the top six of the Western Conference playoffs and will avoid the play-in tournament.

The team entered the night with a magic number of two, but with the Minnesota Timberwolves suffering a surprise loss at home to the Washington Wizards, teamed with a Jazz win, they clinched a playoff birth.

The Denver Nuggets also fell on Tuesday night to the San Antonio Spurs, giving the Jazz a half-game up on the fifth seed with less than a week left in the regular season.

That puts the Jazz in a potentially advantageous spot over the final three games of the season, having the opportunity to both rest players as they see fit, and to potentially line up their preferred first round opponent.

The Jazz and Nuggets are currently tied in the win column at 47 games, but Denver needs at least one more win in their final two outings to avoid the play-in tournament.

If the Nuggets climb to 48 wins, the Jazz control their own destiny to stay ahead of Denver in the standings, or, they could guarantee themselves the sixth seed in the West by losing out to close the season.

Here’s a look at the final games of the season for both the Jazz and the Nuggets.

Jazz Final Three Games:

Vs. Oklahoma City Thunder

Vs. Phoenix Suns

@ Portland Trail Blazers

Nuggets Final Two Games:

vs. Memphis Grizzlies

vs. Los Angeles Lakers

The Nuggets can’t afford to let any potential wins go by the wayside if they want to avoid the play-in, so they’ll have to play the Grizzlies tough on Thursday, and if they lose, they’ll likely face a must-win game against the Los Angeles Lakers on Sunday as long as Minnesota beats the San Antonio Spurs later this week.

The Jazz meanwhile can choose to focus on their health over the final five days of the regular season rather than worrying about wins and losses should they feel that’s the bigger priority.

Either way, the Jazz guaranteed themselves a playoff spot with the win over the Grizzlies and relieved a lot of pressure over the final week of the season.

Context To Jazz Blown Double-Digit Leads

Before the game, Snyder addressed the team’s blown double-digit leads that led to losses.

I have kept a running tally of the Jazz blown double-digit leads this season, and have tweeted them out after those losses.

This is what Snyder had to say before the game about some of those games.

“I think we can all agree a 10 point lead in the first quarter is different than a 10 point lead in the fourth quarter.”

With that in mind, I felt it was worth adding context to my tweets about the Jazz blowing double-digit leads by including in which quarter they last led by double-digits, and their largest lead in that quarter.

@ Magic (4th, 10)

vs. Grizzlies (3rd, 10)

vs. Pelicans (2nd, 11)

vs. Spurs (3rd, 16)

vs. Wizards (1st 10)

@ Raptors (3rd, 15)

@ Pistons (3rd, 10)

@ Lakers (3rd, 10)

vs. Rockets (3rd, 13)

@ Lakers (4th, 12)

@ Spurs (4th, 15)

vs. Bucks (3rd, 11)

@ Mavericks (2nd, 11)

@ Clippers (4th, 16)

@ Warriors (4th, 16)

Here’s a breakdown of the games they’ve lost after leading by double-digits by quarter.

1st Quarter: Once: vs. the Wizards.

2nd Quarter: Twice: vs. the Pelicans, and at the Mavericks.

3rd Quarter: Seven times: vs. the Grizzlies, vs. the Spurs, at the Raptors, at the Pistons, at the Lakers, vs. the Rockets, and vs. the Bucks.

4th Quarter: Five times: at the Magic, at the Lakers, at the Spurs, at the Clippers, and at the Warriors.

Admittedly, it’s difficult to build double-digit leads in the first quarter, hence the disproportionate number, but the Jazz have five times as many losses after leading by double-digits in the fourth quarter than they do when leading by double-digits in the first alone.

They have 12 losses after leading by double-digits in the second half, four times as many as the three losses they have after leading by double-digits in the first half.

Six of the Jazz’s blown double-digit leads have come at home while nine have come on the road.

Nine of the blown leads have come against teams that will not finish in the top eight of either the Eastern or Western Conference.

Luckily for both the Jazz and the desperate fanbase, the team avoided adding another name to this list by holding on to beat the Grizzlies.

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Jazz Get Most Important Win Of Season Over Grizzlies