Grizzlies-Jazz Preview

BY foxsports • November 6, 2015

Though they've been one of the league's best defensive teams in recent years, the Memphis Grizzlies are struggling to come through with consistent stops.

That hasn't been a problem for a Utah Jazz team that has picked up where it left off last season.

The Grizzlies will try to tighten things up as they go after a fourth straight win in Salt Lake City on Saturday night against the Jazz, who seek their fourth win in five games.

Memphis has finished in the top five in scoring defense - no more than 95.1 points per game - while recording greater than a .600 winning percentage in each of the past four seasons. The club has taken a step back so far this season, allowing 103.8 points on 47.7 percent shooting during a 3-3 start.

The Grizzlies also rank near the bottom of the NBA in 3-point defense at 41.5 percent.

After getting embarrassed in a 119-69 loss at Golden State in the opener of a five-game trip, the Grizzlies bounced back by holding Sacramento to 39.2 percent shooting in Tuesday's 103-89 win. They couldn't build on the effort Thursday, allowing 50.6 percent shooting overall and 15 of 30 from 3-point range in a 115-96 loss at Portland.

"We were all out of position because we got broke down on so many plays," said center Marc Gasol, who had 15 points on 4-of-13 shooting. "We were chasing our tails all around the floor."

Now Memphis will have to keep a close watch on Gordon Hayward, who busted out of his slump and finished with a game-high 20 points in Thursday's 96-84 win at Denver. He went 7 for 13 from the field after hitting just 14 of 43 (32.6 percent) over his previous three games.

"It was good to kind of get out of it," Hayward said. "Still not there at all with where I want to be but the rhythm is starting to get there."

He averaged 21.0 points on 50.9 percent shooting in last season's four meetings with Memphis, and the road team won every time. Hayward missed the last of three free-throw attempts with 0.1 seconds left in an 89-88 loss April 10.

The Jazz (3-2) went 24-13 to close 2014-15 while allowing an average of 88.8 points. They've continued to play well defensively this season, giving up 86.2 per game.

Utah limited Denver to 38.9 percent shooting, including 5 of 20 from 3-point range, for its third victory in four games. The lone loss in that span was also the Jazz's only home game this season - 108-92 to Portland on Wednesday - and they'll go back on the road for a four-game trip starting Tuesday in Cleveland.

With Derrick Favors (flu) sidelined during the second half Thursday, Trevor Booker provided a lift with 13 points on 6-of-9 shooting to go along with nine rebounds. He had totaled six points on 3-for-18 shooting over his previous three contests.

The Grizzlies haven't been able to overcome their defensive woes at the other end, ranking near the bottom of the league with 92.8 points per game and 26.3 percent 3-point shooting. Zach Randolph leads the team with just 13.0 points per game after totaling 36 over the last two along with 21 rebounds.

Gasol is averaging just 10.8 points on 34.9 percent shooting over his last four, though he played well in this series last season with a 21.5 scoring average.



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