Utah Jazz 94, Memphis Grizzlies 85
Another home game . . . another home win. It’s just like old times, except now we’re getting come from behind victories while the other team is playing without their top scorer from last season. This time we came from behind to deal a killing blow to the wounded Grizzlies. They were without Darrell Arthur and Zach Randolph. As a result, the Jazz were supposed to feast inside on the hungry bears. The Jazz did indeed feast: 52 points in the paint, and 30 free throw attempts. That was a difference of +10, and +9 respectively.
Memphis had solid games from Marc Gasol (21/11/6 blocks), and Tony Allen (21 points, 10 FTA). O.J. Mayo went 3 for 12 off the bench, and was a major factor in the Jazz keeping the lead in the fourth quarter. Gasol was destroying Big Al, and stubborn mule-like Al kept trying to prove his point by shooting contested shots instead of passing to open men. Didn’t Al mention he was going to pass more? He still needed 18 shots to get to 20 points.
The Jazz continued to get nothing out of their starting wings (Gordon Hayward 5 points, Raja Bell 3); but there was a good lift off the bench (Josh Howard 13, Alec Burks 7). Big Al Jefferson and Paul Millsap both were close to having double doubles, but just missed out on a few rebounds. The big story of the night was the play of our point guards Earl Watson (11 points, 5 assists, 4 rebounds, 1 steal), and Devin Harris (11 points, 3 assists, 1 rebound, 1 steal, 1 block).
Harris started off sloppy, and Earl pushed the tempo, found guys cutting to the basket, got his guys easy shots, and played tenacious defense. Harris seems to play best when pushed by Earl, and Earl did a lot of pushing for more playing time in this game. Harris responded by getting to the line 6 times (most in "opponent has to foul mode" at the end of the game), but he went 6 for 7. Harris also had a great defensive sequence where he shut down Mike Conley.
The Jazz fans in the game thread and tweeting were upset with some of the calls that went against us. Two in particular stand out: Josh Howard being called for a foul when it should have been an ‘up and down’ call; and Alec Burks getting a dunk taken away because a Grizzlies player blocked it, while his hand was in the cylinder. That said, the Jazz did go to the line more, but left 10 freebies at the table. This game could have been even less close if the Jazz we dialed in from the free throw line.
Still, there are a lot of concerns for this team moving forward. We can’t continue wining with a "we can only score in the paint" style attack. Poor floor spacing and making only 2 threes in a game will doom us if the other team decides to go into a zone. We wouldn’t be in this game without the efforts of the younger guys (and Earl) – slow starts will also doom us, and already have this season (look at all our losses).