MEMPHIS, Tenn. (AP) — The Memphis Grizzlies had their new chairman and boss sitting at midcourt for the home opener along with a nice big crowd.
Talk about pressure.
The Grizzlies came out wanting to make a good impression all around only to struggle with some cold shooting early. Eventually, Zach Randolph finished with 16 points and 18 rebounds, Marc Gasol added 22 points and Memphis capped a day of celebration by beating the Utah Jazz 103-94 Monday night.
“Oh yeah, we was amped up, especially myself,” said Randolph, who missed his first six shots. “Real amped up. Anytime home opener in front of your crowd you want to come out and do good and have a lot of energy. Some guys had too much energy like me.”
Mike Conley added 16 points, Rudy Gay had 15 and Quincy Pondexter 14 for Memphis, which won its second straight this season after opening up with two games in California. Gasol also had eight assists and eight rebounds, helping the Grizzlies outrebound Utah 51-42.
“We just wanted to go out and play Grizzlies basketball and be physical,” Conley said. “At the end of the day, we ended up winning the game.”
With NBA commissioner David Stern on hand, the Grizzlies also picked up where they left off last season by winning their 12th straight regular season game and extending their franchise record. They haven’t lost at home in regulation since the Jazz beat them Feb. 12.
Gordon Hayward led Utah with 19 points, 13 in the first half. Mo Williams added 17 points, Paul Millsap and Derrick Favors each had 14. The Jazz have lost three straight road games since beating Dallas in their own home opener, and coach Tyrone Corbin called it disappointing.
“We were able to be in all three games and had opportunities to win them, and just couldn’t finish them off,” Corbin said. “Even tonight, we had a stretch where we were right there. We had a lead at halftime, and started the third quarter off relatively good. We had a six-point lead and they made a run. … We just have to grow and learn from it and continue to get better.”
The Jazz started quickly and led by as much as 19-7. They led 25-18 at the end of the first quarter and 50-47 at halftime when Williams hit a 3 a second before the buzzer.
Memphis finally got going in the third quarter with a 16-2 run, turning up the defense with Gay blocking a shot by Millsap. Randolph hit a 6-foot turnaround jumper, then tied it up at 59 with a layup. Pondexter banked in a 7-footer to put the Grizzlies ahead. Al Jefferson hit a 6-foot jumper to tie it for Utah for the last time at 61-all with 4:23 left.
Pondexter hit a 3 to put the Grizzlies ahead to stay with 4:00 remaining in the period. Conley capped the spurt with a fast-break layup and finished off the three-point play for a 69-61 lead with 3:08 left. The Grizzlies led 74-66 at the end of the third, and they pushed the lead to 14 on a dunk by Tony Allen with 1:07 left.
The end got a little messy with 3.4 seconds left when Gasol fouled Foye as he drove toward the basket, taking him down and standing over him. Williams took exception and pushed Gasol back out of the way. Officials sorted it out on replay and gave Gasol a flagrant with a technical for Williams.
“You’ve got to love that,” Hayward said. “We’re going to finish the game to the end no matter what, and you’ve got to stand up for your teammate.”
Stern thanked former Grizzlies owner Michael Heisley before tipoff and helped introduce the Grizzlies’ new chairman, Robert Pera.
“The Memphis community has come together to support this team in an extraordinary fashion and guarantee that it’s anchored in the Memphis community for many years to come,” Stern said.
Stern handed the microphone to Pera who talked briefly about his ideas for the team before concluding with, “Go Grizzlies.” Even Stern said, “That’s it?” Pera, a 34-year-old owner of a California communications technology company, stood and clapped at the end.
The Grizzlies opened up struggling to find the basket whether on short jumpers or even simple layups. They hit only two of their first 19, and Randolph’s miss of yet another layup had the home fans groaning. The Jazz had no such problems, hitting 7 of their first 11.
Conley credited the bench with energizing the starters, and Memphis got 26 points from its reserves.
“They all played well tonight and really kept us in the game and allowed the first unit to come back in and kind of feed off their energy,” Conley said.
NOTES: Gasol now has scored at least 20 points in each of the first three games this season. … The Grizzlies went 17-3 when scoring 100 points in a game last season with two of the three losses in overtime. They are 2-0 when scoring 100 points this season. … Memphis hit 22 of 25 at the free throw line with Gay a perfect 8 of 8 and Gasol hitting all 10 of his attempts. The Jazz shot 9 of 13 at the line. … Both Randolph and Allen missed their first six shots each. Randolph finally hit his seventh at 8:19 of second, and Allen hit his first bucket on a reverse layup with 1:48 left in the second quarter.