Although they’ve struggled over the last three weeks, the
Memphis Grizzlies continue to play with a lot of confidence at
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
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.