The Utah Jazz defeated the short handed Memphis Grizzlies to go a very respectable 3-3 on their recent East road trip. I was unfortunately unable to watch the game (Texas infrastructure can't handle rain and the wifi was out here), and unfortunately our blog was unable to provide a recap for the game last night. So, after watching the fourth quarter and looking at popcorn machine I'm tackling this.
The tired, but young Jazz flew into Memphis and were playing their sixth game of this road trip, and sixth game in nine days. They were just spanked by the Charlotte Hornets after two impressive wins against the Miami Heat and Orlando Magic. A win tonight, while not giving them three wins in a row, would give them three wins in their last four games. The Grizz played two nights ago and lost to the Cleveland Cavaliers. They had previously just lost to the Chicago Bulls. A loss at home to the Jazz would be the third loss in a row for the Western power. But they would be playing without Zach Randolph and Tony Allen, giving the Jazz a slight chance. Utah was without the services of Trevor Booker, which meant more playing time for Rudy Gobert, and a shorter rotation. So what happened?
The Jazz tipped off with their regular starters, and the Grizz went with Mike Conley, Courtney Lee, Tayshaun Prince, Kosta Koufos (what!), and Marc Gasol. The Jazz went on a 6-0 run after half a minute in the game to exert some sort of 'control' over the game, only to be grit and ground down with a 14-2 run by Memphis. The home team went up by 8 points before some whole sale changes were made, though both benches more or less maintained the flow of the game, with the Grizz leading after one by three.
The second quarter was more of the rubber-band gameplay where the Jazz would make a run, followed by the reaction of a larger run in the other direction by the Grizzlies, only to have Utah slowly chip away in the after shock. And chip away they did with very impressive performances early by Rudy Gobert (on the glass, if not on the scoreboard), and Gordon Hayward and buddy Alec Burks were getting to the line and making threes. The Jazz had the lead at halftime, and a huge part of it was because of offensive rebounding, getting to the line, and making threes.
In the Podcast Phil said that the Jazz would need to make threes. I felt as thought the shots Utah manufacture in the offense are good shots; they just aren't falling. They were falling in this game.
After half, and the theoretical cussing out by Coach Quin Snyder, the Jazz had their customary strong third quarter. They went on two solid runs extending the lead up to 7, but Memphis -- a potential NBA Finals team -- fought back and retook the lead three times in the quarter. The closing group of Dante Exum, Gordon Hayward, Rodney Hood, Enes Kanter, and Rudy Gobert made sure the Jazz were still in the lead going into the fourth.
The Jazz relinquished the lead once again in the mid fourth quarter, and with 5:32 left the Jazz were down by two after a Marc Gasol jumpers. Guess what happened next?
Our young guys went +8 over the rest of the game (winning 22-14). Alec Burks was the main man on offense, scoring 10 points, going 3-3 from the field and 4-4 from the FT line. Derrick Favors added four, with 2/2 from the FT line, and 1/1 from the field. Gordon Hayward missed his shots, but went 3/4 from the FT line. Trey Burke made a three, got fouled, and completed the four point play. And Rodney Hood added a free throw.
Personally it wasn't the most perfect game, but the team finished it on the right side of the win column. The Jazz went 9/19 from outside, which is 47.4%, and apparently the blueprint for beating the Grizzlies. They also collected 49 rebounds -- it's great to be big. The team surrendered only 11 turn overs (which is nearly 3x the four that MEM gave up) and most surprisingly, Utah went to the line (on the road) 27 times. Alec went 7/8, Derrick went 5/6, and Gordon went 5/8. That's 77.2% from our big FTA guys. Not bad, Jazz, not bad.
Rudy Gobert is a monster, but I love that Enes Kanter rejection of Marc Gasol.
The team went 3-3 on the road, which is awesome. Great job Jazz. And Merry Christmas / Happy Holiday (Enes).