The Utah Jazz and the Memphis Grizzlies played a game of chicken on Saturday that made fans on both sides wonder if they were going to have heart failure. For a large portion of the fourth quarter the two teams traded baskets in what seemed like would continue until the very last possession and the team with the ball last would be the winner. The Jazz pulled away in the end though and won by a more comfortable final score of 121-111.
Give credit to the Memphis Grizzlies. Fans and pundits in general like to talk about the fact that young teams almost never go far in the playoffs and that youth and inexperience usually become a huge weakness for teams once they do make the postseason. Not this Grizzlies team, they are tough and they don’t care how old they are. They are going to keep the pressure on any team no matter what the score is and they don’t quit. So far in this series every game has been hard fought and we shouldn’t expect it to be any different as long as the series continues. The game tonight was a perfect example of this. Most teams, especially young teams, would quit if they were down double digits for most of the game but even with the Jazz leading by as many as 15 it never felt like the Grizzlies were out of it.
The Grizzlies gave up a lot of offensive rebounds and second chance points in the first half but still found themselves only down by 11 going into halftime. The second half saw the Grizzlies do much better with the defensive rebounds and they were able to force the Jazz into more turnovers which disrupted the flow of the Jazz offense. The 4th quarter was a rollercoaster with the Grizzlies coming all the way back to take a 109-107 lead, but their offense stalled in the last 3-4 minutes as the Jazz went on a 14-2 run to close out the Game.
The Jazz did exactly what they needed to do coming back to Memphis. Winning Game 3 was crucial because you don’t want to go into game 4 on the road in a must win situation. With the win the Jazz not only regain home court advantage but also a sense of control in the series. Not that game 4 will be easy but the Jazz have the luxury of playing loose and not falling behind 1-3 to a young, hungry team that smells blood. The Jazz got a huge game out of Mike Conley tonight. In his playoff return to Memphis he scored 27 point and had 8 assists and was 7/10 from three point land, despite taking a cheap shot from Memphis forward Dillon Brooks in the second quarter. It’s such a luxury to have someone as composed as Mike Conley leading the charge in the 4th quarter. As Donovan Mitchell said after the game “....he’s just locked in...”. The 14-2 run to close out the game was all about Donovan Mitchell’s offense and some timely defense from Rudy Gobert. The way the Jazz tightened up and got stops at the end was the most impressive thing because for the first half of the 4th quarter they couldn’t stop anybody. Rudy also had a crucial put back dunk late in the 4th quarter that kept the game tied and swung the game a little bit because Memphis would have had the chance to go up by four on the next possession.
All in all, it was a great game for the Utah Jazz when you consider that the Grizzlies made the run that everybody was waiting for and the Jazz were still able to withstand it and keep their composure to get the win. Utah will get the chance to go up 3-1 on Memorial day Monday and thank goodness it’s only 48 hours instead of 72 before we get to see that.