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Utah Jazz grind out a win in Memphis against Grizzlies

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The Jazz extend their winning streak to seven.

NBA: Utah Jazz at Memphis Grizzlies Justin Ford-USA TODAY Sports

Nothing makes sense anymore.

Ricky Rubio is playing like a top 10 point guard.

Derrick Favors is the perfect partner in the front court with Rudy Gobert.

The Jazz have won the last three games without a major contribution from Donovan Mitchell.

Raul Neto is a premier backup point guard.

Rodney Hood looks like a starter again.

The Utah Jazz’s defense looks back.

The Utah Jazz’s offense over the last month looks like one of the best in the league.

The Utah Jazz are back in the playoff hunt.

Nothing makes sense anymore, and we are totally fine with that.

The Utah Jazz defeated the Memphis Grizzlies 92-88 in a grind it out type victory that the Grizzlies practically patented. The Utah Jazz were led by their much maligned turned star point guard Ricky Rubio. Rubio had 29 points, 8 rebounds, 3 assists, and 3 steals in just 29 minutes. He’d probably have had more assists if any of his teammates could have hit a shot. Besides Rodney Hood and Raul Neto, the Utah Jazz had an off shooting night. A combination of a tough road trip finally coming to an end plus the ability to almost sleepwalk to a win against a tanking team probably made the temptation strong. Without Rubio though, this game is a loss.

The Utah Jazz played poorly on the defensive side of the ball. The score and shooting percentage of Memphis makes it look like Utah’s defense was crisp and clicking all night long; it was when it needed to be, but when the Jazz began to put some room between them and Memphis they started sleepwalking. If there was a game that was “Press X to simulate game” incarnate, this was probably it. Rubio is the difference in this one. I just don’t believe Rubio has the capability to show up to a game and not give maximum effort. He just works his tail off.

The game was pretty close all night long. It never felt like Utah could lose this game which is why when the game was tied up early in the 4th, the alarms were going off. If the Jazz lost tonight’s game it would have been the result of a competition of suckitude, not the best team won. But there’s some encouraging signs from tonight’s game.

Donovan Mitchell only had 9 points while shooting 4 of 12 from the field and only had 3 rebounds and an assist. Rudy Gobert only had 8 points while shooting 1 of 5 from the field with 12 rebounds and two blocks. Despite only getting 17 points from their two stars, Utah never felt like they were not in the driver’s seat of this game. This game was always theirs to lose and not Memphis’ to win. That’s a huge step in the Jazz’s progression. Just a month ago, the Jazz lost to Orlando because they didn’t bring their A game. Less than a month later, they’re coasting to a victory in Memphis despite a poor night. These are the types of wins the Jazz need to be in the playoff hunt.

The Jazz had a lot of excuses to play terrible: last game on a road trip, Donovan Mitchell still recovering from the flu, already had two “signature” wins on the trip, and the trade deadline drama circling overhead the next day. Despite all that, they took care of business and are now going home for some much needed relaxation—or packing—and can prepare for a home game against a possibly Kemba Walker-less Charlotte Hornets team. They are only two games under .500 and could extend their winning streak to 8 games. All of this wouldn’t have made sense a month ago, but here we are.

Game Notes

Speaking of mailing it in, the referees tonight just felt like the game was too big for them. Yes, a Grizzlies-Jazz game was too big for them. They threw out Memphis’ head coach J. B. Bickerstaff who had some choice words for the officials as he was leaving. He even threatened the referees that he’d be waiting after the game for them. Jerry Sloan would be proud.

Donovan Mitchell still doesn’t look 100% with his recovery. As anyone who has been sick while traveling can attest, it’s not the greatest experience; you don’t feel 100% until you get some time back at home.

The Utah Jazz face off against the Charlotte Hornets on Friday at 7:00PM MT. It will be interesting who’s not (and on) the Utah Jazz roster on Friday.