The Utah Jazz and the Memphis Grizzlies were both short-handed coming into tonight’s game. The Jazz were missing veterans Mike Conley and Rudy Gay and the impressive rookie Walker Kessler. The Grizzlies were without their star point guard Ja Morant. This Memphis team is no stranger to playing without Morant, though, and they have proven to be able to win regularly with him out of the rotation, so this was no easy matchup for Utah.
The game was ugly. From the beginning, it was a game of runs, with Memphis scoring the first four and Utah scoring the next ten. It continued that way for almost the entire game. One team would punch, and the other would prepare their counter.
With Morant out of the lineup, Memphis was led by Desmond Bane and Dillon Brooks, scoring 30+ points. Tyus Jones started at point guard and contributed 23 points and ten assists.
Due to the three rotation players out of the lineup for Utah, lots of young guys got to show their stuff tonight. Nickeil Alexander-Walker had a stand-out game, and rookie Ochai Agbaji got only his second game with real rotation minutes. The young guns fueled a couple of crucial runs for the Jazz.
There was a moment in the fourth quarter when it looked like Memphis might run away with the game, but Will Hardy put together another new closing lineup that made a run to close the game out. The Jazz looked like they might be out of juice, but they dug in and found the energy to win a challenging, physical game.
Collin Sexton and Jordan Clarkson made great passes, Kelly Olynyk hit big shots, Lauri Markkanen threw down a reverse dunk, and Malik Beasley hit the game-winner. The Utah Jazz continue to shock and surprise the league.
Player of the Game
The Jazz are a balanced team, so this has been a tough award to hand out. Tonight’s goes to Kelly Olynyk, with strong shout-outs to Markkanen, Clarkson, and Sexton. Olynyk led the Jazz with 23 points on 8-10 shooting and 4-6 from three. He also added four assists, three rebounds, three blocks, and two steals. Olynyk is a bit of a jack of all trades, and he showed it tonight.
Other stat lines that deserve recognition:
- Markkanen: 23 points, nine rebounds, five assists
- Clarkson: 21 points, six assists
- Sexton: 19 points, four assists
- Vanderbilt: seven points, seven assists, seven rebounds, two steals
- Alexander-Walker: 11 points, three assists, two steals
The Jazz will next play on Monday at home against the Memphis Grizzlies once again. Memphis will have another shot to take a win in Salt Lake City.