After Saturday’s entertaining back-and-forth contest wasn’t decided until the final buzzer, the NBA schedule-makers might be feeling pretty good about a quick turnaround meeting between the Memphis Grizzlies and Utah Jazz.
Fresh off a wild 124-123 win, the surprise Jazz will host the Grizzlies for the second time in three nights Monday in Salt Lake City.
Viewers can only hope it’s as fun to watch as the previous meeting, during which Lauri Markkanen and Kelly Olynyk each scored 23 points and hit a string of key shots late in the fourth quarter for the slim win.
“You got to give the Jazz credit,” Memphis coach Taylor Jenkins said. “They outcompeted us for 48 minutes.”
Despite playing without Ja Morant, who was sidelined with a non-COVID-19 illness and is questionable for Monday, the Grizzlies had a chance to win after Markkanen absentmindedly missed a layup in the waning seconds when he didn’t need to shoot since the shot clock was off.
Memphis got the ball with three seconds remaining but was unable to get off a game-winning attempt.
“When I missed that, I realized I should have just held onto it,” Markkanen said.
Nonetheless, the Jazz survived and were in a position to win thanks in part to Markkanen, whose timely scoring kept Utah within striking distance until an 8-0 run in the final two minutes.
Utah trailed 120-116 with less than two minutes remaining when Olynyk made a layup and then hit a clutch 3-pointer, followed by a Malik Beasley triple to pull ahead 124-120.
Dillon Brooks, one of two Memphis players to score at least 30 points, made things interesting with a 3 that pulled the Grizzlies within one. But the Grizzlies couldn’t take advantage of their late opportunity after Brooks grabbed the rebound of Markkanen’s missed layup attempt.
“Really proud of the guys. … A hard-fought win against a good team,” Jazz coach Will Hardy said. “I’m just really happy with them staying the course. We had a chaotic end of the game. … Again, just really, really proud of our team for digging in.”
It was yet another impressive win for this new-look Jazz team, which has also beaten Denver and Minnesota en route to picking up five victories in seven games. That’s despite Utah trading away All-Stars Rudy Gobert and Donovan Mitchell along with reliable sharpshooter Bojan Bogdanovic and starter Royce O’Neale in the offseason.
Jordan Clarkson added 21 points and Collin Sexton had 19 while starting for the resting Mike Conley.
Desmond Bane scored a game-high 32 points for Memphis, marking the third consecutive game in which he’s reached the 30-point mark. Brooks finished with 30 points, and Tyus Jones amassed 23 points and 10 assists.
Memphis shot 56.8 percent, but Utah countered by hitting 51.7 percent of its shots.
“We’re playing well, sharing the ball, getting out and running,” Bane said. “But we’re going to have to guard better if we want to win like we want to (win).”
Following this rematch, the Grizzlies will wrap up a four-game road trip Wednesday in Portland while the Jazz will kick off a three-game road swing in Dallas.
–Field Level Media