MEMPHIS, Tenn. (AP) Each time the Utah Jazz threatened Memphis’ lead, the Grizzlies responded with defensive stops.
Utah’s second-half effort pulled the Jazz even in the fourth before Memphis clamped down its defense and beat the Jazz 96-86 on Wednesday night.
Zach Randolph scored 21 points, Marc Gasol added 20 as Memphis maintained its hold on a Western Conference playoff spot.
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”When we do things we’re supposed to, everything is easier. It’s more us,” Gasol said of holding off the late Utah threats. ”When we start breaking down and not doing what we’re supposed to, things get ugly quick.”
Mike Conley finished with 18 points and seven assists, and Tony Allen scored 10 points. Memphis won its eighth straight home game and fifth straight game at home over the Jazz.
Gordon Hayward, Trey Burke and Alec Burks each scored 16 points for Utah, while Enes Kanter had 12 points and 12 rebounds. The Jazz lost their sixth straight and 11th of their last 12.
”I love the way we fought in the second half,” Utah coach Tyrone Corbin said. ”We gave ourselves a chance, and we fought back in the game.”
Memphis weathered several runs by the Jazz before six straight points in the fourth quarter provided a sufficient buffer. The Grizzlies’ victory, coupled with Dallas’ overtime loss to Minnesota, moved Memphis into the seventh playoff spot by percentage points over the Mavericks.
Utah kept making runs at Memphis and finally caught the Grizzlies near the midway point of the fourth.
Memphis had carried its advantage to 12 early in the period, but Utah answered with a 16-4 run to tie the game at 84 with 5:38 left. The tying basket came after Memphis’ fourth turnover of the quarter, leading to a breakaway by Burks.
Helping the Utah run was the Jazz hitting 10 of their first 12 shots in the fourth.
But Memphis got inside for its next three baskets – by Tayshaun Prince, Randolph and Conley – to increase the lead to 90-84, enough for the Grizzlies to secure the game.
After tying the game, Utah would commit four turnovers the rest of the way and missed nine of its final 10 shots, preventing the Jazz from threatening again.
”I think we kind of settled too much, tried to just get the game over with instead of going out there and playing the style that got us the lead,” Conley said. ”Late in the fourth quarter, we finally got that back.”
As poorly as the Jazz played in the first half when they trailed by as many as 18, they reversed their fortunes in the third quarter.
Hayward, who converted only one of eight shots in the first half, got untracked, helping Utah go on a 16-4 rally to get the Jazz close.
”We just came out in the second half and played hard,” said Jazz forward Derrick Favors, who was limited to six points on 3-for-10 shooting. ”Gordon Hayward got going. We were just out there playing hard. We will get one of these games sooner or later.”
Utah would get within 3 in the third, but Memphis responded to run the advantage back to 13 before holding a 74-63 lead heading into the final period.
Hayward scored eight in the quarter, while Richard Jefferson had nine for Utah, which made 13 of 22 shots in the third.
”I think the second half we played pretty good, especially in the third quarter,” Kanter said. ”We got a really good run and we came back.”
Memphis, which led 48-32 at halftime, maintained its poise as Utah pecked away at the lead. Despite tying Memphis in the fourth, Utah never led in the game.
”We stepped up our game, got three stops in a row, scored three times in a row and executed most of the rest of the way,” Memphis coach Dave Joerger said of holding off Utah.
NOTES: The Grizzlies, who hadn’t played since Saturday remained undefeated (4-0) when coming off three days’ rest. … Memphis native Ian Clark, a Utah rookie out of Belmont, did not play in the game. … Utah’s only win in their last 12 was over the Philadelphia 76ers. … Memphis’ reserves shot 42.9 percent, ending a streak of 14 games where the backups shot at least 50 percent.