John Collins Thrives As Jazz Beat Grizzlies

Nov 10, 2023, 9:40 PM | Updated: Nov 11, 2023, 2:47 pm

SALT LAKE CITY – The Utah Jazz moved to 1-0 in In-Season Tournament play as they downed the Memphis Grizzlies 127-121, snapping a four-game losing streak.

The Grizzlies erased a 21-point third quarter lead, tying the game with six minutes left to play, but the Jazz prevailed thanks to a late 5-0 run from Jordan Clarkson.

Clarkson and Lauri Markkanen each scored 26 to lead the Jazz, while the Grizzlies got 37 points out of Desmond Bane.

John Collins Shakes Bad Start In Best Jazz Outing

The Jazz found themselves down 7-0 early against the Grizzlies and forward John Collins shouldered a lot of the blame.

The 26-year-old had two quick turnovers and blew multiple defensive assignments as Memphis looked poised to break their home winless streak.

However, after his rocky start, Collins found a rhythm on both ends of the floor and helped fuel the Jazz to their first road win of the season.

The Wake Forrest product has benefited from the Jazz’s new starting lineup, both receiving passes from a willing ball-mover in Keyonte George, while getting easier shots at the basket in the absence of Walker Kessler.

But even beyond his two makes at the rim, Collins was dialed in from the three-point line knocking down all three of his attempts.

The forward has now made a three in all 10 of his appearances with the Jazz, a streak that extends to a career-best 15 games counting last year’s postseason run with the Hawks.

Three-point shooting was one of the biggest question marks for Collins entering the season after shooting just 29 percent last year in Atlanta. In 10 games with the Jazz Collins has converted 15-35 attempts for 42 percent, second-best on the team behind only Markkanen.

Collins also made an impact on the defensive end in Memphis blocking four shots, more than doubling his total over the first nine games of the season.

It’s a small sample size, but it’s apparent that Collins is playing better without Kessler on the floor over the last two games.

While that may seem like an issue, the Jazz can likely utilize Collins more as a backup center even after Kessler returns, and limiting their minutes on the floor together.

Collins finished with 18 points, three rebounds, and four blocks on 5-6 shooting.

Is The Jazz Backcourt Fixed?

After the Jazz backcourt took turns participating in a season-long disappearing act, it turned in arguably its best combined performance of the year in Friday’s win over the Grizzlies.

Here’s a look at the stat line for each guard in Will Hardy’s trimmed-down rotation.

Keyonte George: 7 points, 11 assists, 3 rebounds, 2 turnovers, 2-12 FG, 1-6 3PA
Jordan Clarkson: 26 points, 4 assists, 4 rebounds, 3 turnovers, 9-16 FG, 2-5 3PA
Talen Horton-Tucker: 13 points, 3 assists, 2 rebounds, 1 turnover, 4-7 FG, 3-5 3PA
Collin Sexton: 10 points, 6 assists, 2 rebounds, 3 turnovers, 3-8 FG, 0-2 3PA

Overall, the Jazz guards scored 56 points, handed out 20 assists, grabbed 12 rebounds, turned the ball over 11 times, and shot 18-43 from the floor including 6-18 from three.

Beyond their cumulative numbers, each player seemed to have a better understanding of their role, and how they can individually impact the game.

Clarkson is the Jazz’s best backcourt scorer, and over the last two games, he’s scored 59 points, a one-point uptick over his four previous performances combined.

George is already the Jazz’s best offensive initiator and playmaker dishing out 20 assists while committing just three turnovers in his first two NBA starts.

Horton-Tucker didn’t force any bad shots, simply knocking down open threes when the ball came his way.

While Sexton kept the ball moving in the backcourt when George was off the floor.

George did struggle to shoot against Memphis, missing 10 of his 12 attempts, but it’s blatantly clear how well the ball moves with him on the court, and it’s made the lives of his Jazz teammates considerably easier.

“These assists in these two games that he’s started is pretty crazy,” Clarkson said of the rookie. “The way he controls the game, gets us in sets, gives us opportunities, me, Lauri, John, everybody down the line, he’s just been doing a great job.”

There’s still plenty of room for improvement in George’s career, but he’s making his teammates’ lives easier and has helped balance the guard rotation, no small feat considering the early season struggles.

Nightly Awards

The “Terance Mann I Love The Corner Three” Award: 

Goes to the entire Jazz roster in the second quarter who shot 7-9, including several easy threes in the corner as Grizzlies center Bismack Biyombo simply refused to leave the paint defensively.

It was eerily reminiscent of the Jazz Game Six collapse against the Los Angeles Clippers when Rudy Gobert wouldn’t leave the paint to defend Terance Man in the corners leading to seven made threes, and a career-high 39 points.

The “Russell Westbrook Is This A Good Thing” Award:

Goes to Talen Horton-Tucker who made his first three threes of the game which has been a bad omen at times because he falls in love with the shot and forgets to do the other good things he can to help the team win.

Russell Westbrook is notorious for making a first quarter three and thinking he’s Steph Currey for the remainder of the game.

Horton-Tucker missed his final two threes of the game, but was wise enough not to force them in Memphis.

Jazz Next Broadcast

The Jazz will face the Portland Trail Blazers on Tuesday at 7 pm MST in Salt Lake City. The game will be televised on KJZZ, streamed on Jazz+, and can be heard on 97.5 The KSL Sports Zone.

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Ben Anderson is the Utah Jazz insider for KSL Sports and the co-host of Jake and Ben from 10-12p with Jake Scott on 97.5 The KSL Sports Zone. Find Ben on Twitter at @BensHoops or on Instagram @BensHoops.

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John Collins Thrives As Jazz Beat Grizzlies