Jazz-Grizzlies Preview

Although they’ve struggled over the last three weeks, the

Memphis Grizzlies continue to play with a lot of confidence at

home.

The Grizzlies will go for their third straight win Sunday night

when they host the Utah Jazz.

After losing seven of nine while averaging 87.3 points, Memphis

has won its last two – both at home – including a 98-92 victory

over Indiana on Friday.

The Grizzlies (14-13) had five players score in double figures

and received a lift off the bench in the fourth quarter from their

reserves.

After the score was tied at 86 with 4:30 remaining, reserve O.J.

Mayo hit five of the Grizzlies’ 10 free throws down the stretch to

finish with 13 points. But it was the play of center Hamed Haddadi

and guard Jeremy Pargo early in the period that Mike Conley felt

was especially crucial.

“It gives you a little more energy and you are able to play

harder for a longer period of time,” said Conley, who scored 15

points. “The last four or five minutes of the game is where it’s

crunch time and you have to make the right decisions. Having your

legs is a big part of that.”

Playing at home also appears to be giving the Grizzlies energy.

They improved to 9-4 at home with Friday’s win, and have won three

straight at FedEx Forum against Utah.

“Every team in this league is tough, but we know that Utah is

playing really well right now,” guard Quincy Pondexter said. “They

are surprising everybody. When we come out, we are going to use

what we did this game to learn for the next game. It is fun. This

half of the season is fun. Every game is a well-fought battle, and

we are looking forward to it.”

Though the Jazz (13-12) have Pondexter’s attention, they’re lost

three straight and five of six heading into a road

back-to-back-to-back stretch. They are coming off a 101-87 defeat

against Oklahoma City on Friday.

Al Jefferson scored 20 points and Raja Bell hit three 3-pointers

en route to 13 points, but Utah was outrebounded 46-32, giving up

10 offensive boards.

The Jazz have averaged 91.3 points the last three games. Paul

Millsap, who scores 16.3 points per game, was held well under his

average for the second time in that stretch after going 4 for 15

and finishing with 10 points Friday.

“I thought he went in there pretty hard,” coach Tyrone Corbin

said. “He’s just to keep plugging at it. … He’ll make the shots,

he just didn’t make them tonight.”

Millsap is averaging 13.4 points and shooting 41.9 percent the

last eight games after putting up 22.8 points on 57.4 percent

shooting in the previous nine.

Utah has lost four straight away from home to drop to 2-7 on the

road. The Jazz are giving up a league-worst 104.2 points outside of

Salt Lake City and they know the lack of rest will make defending a

challenge in Memphis.

“They’re all crucial for us now,” Corbin said. “We’ve got to

concentrate on controlling the tempo of the game and be a lot more

aggressive on both ends of the floor.”

The Jazz received the kind of defensive effort they are looking

for on this trip the last time they last faced the Grizzlies. Utah

forced 20 turnovers and held them to 41.3 percent shooting in a

94-85 home win Jan. 6.