Grizzlies Beat Jazz In Defensive Battle

Memphis started a 2-game road trip with a 92-84 win over the Utah Jazz in Salt Lake City. The Grizzlies held Utah to just 35% shooting from the field, while going a scorching 37% from the field themselves. This game was beautiful to watch as a Grizz fan, as it played out in the exact opposite manner of most games in today’s NBA. 

The Skinny

As JaMychal Greens begins his recovery for a broken jaw suffered in Friday night’s game against Atlanta, Jaren Jackson Jr. was called upon to make the first start of his young NBA career. Just over a minute into the game, the lottery pick took a feed from veteran teammate, Marc Gasol, turned to go up for a score with his left-handed hook that Grizzlies fans are growing to love, and the rookie calmly banked the shot in over Derrick Favors. He looked like he completely belongs in the starting lineup, and we here at The Barn feel that he will remain in the role moving forward.

The Jazz jumped out to an early 22-19 lead to end the first quarter behind a flurry of buckets from Joe Ingles. While Ingles is a very good NBA player who is much more than just a shooter, this was yet another example that Chandler Parsons is unable to guard starting wings at this point in his career. Parsons played only the initial 6 minutes of the game after tip-off and never returned to the court with what the team called knee soreness.

Memphis took a 1-point lead into halftime before growing the lead to 7 as Mike Conley knocked down a wing 3 to close out the 3rd quarter, putting the Grizz up 70-63. Conley finished with 23 points and 4 assist to lead the Grizzlies. Marc Gasol scored 13 of his 18 points in the first half, while pulling down 13 rebounds, dishing out 4 assists, and controlling the paint on defense like I haven’t seen in a few years.

Backup point guard Shelvin Mack hit two 3-pointers just over a minute apart from each other midway through the 4th quarter to push the lead back to 10 for Memphis, while Dante Exum seemed to miss every shot he took (and take bad shots), before the Grizzlies lead ballooned to 16 following a Jazz turnover with just under 4 minutes to play.

However, Gasol fouled out with 3:41 remaining and Utah responded with 5 straight points from Jae Crowder, who finished with a team-high 15 for the Jazz. Utah was able to get the score within 6 following a Rudy Gobert And-1 on an absolutely awful defensive rotation and weak/untimely foul by Wayne Selden and that was as close as it would get, with the Grizzlies winning 92-84.

More: Jaren Jackson Jr. Poised to Shine

More: Memphis Grizzlies Week 2 Preview


Key Takeaways

Conley led the team with 20 shot attempts from the field, followed by 15 from Gasol and 12 from Jackson. While it was not a pretty night for any of these guys, as Jackson led the way shooting 41.7% from the field, this is a statistic that Grizzlies fans should love to see. No one else on the team should be attempting more than 10 shots unless they are scorching hot, and these 3 guys need to lead the team in shot attempts every game. It also seems that we are seeing more and more of the Conley-Gasol two-man game, which is also a good sign.

While the Grizzlies on-ball defense continues to be unpleasing, against the Jazz Gasol and Jackson owned the paint defensively. Utah was either forcing up a tough shot over, under, or around one of these guys or throwing a pass across the court to the perimeter. On these passes the defensive rotations were pretty solid and the Jazz settled for a lot of contested shots from deep. Jazz leaders Donoavan Mitchell and Joe Ingles were held to just 13 and 9 points, respectively.

Chandler Parsons left the game with knee soreness. Dillon Brooks, who replaced Parsons in the starting unit after halftime and was a team-high +18 left the game in the 2nd half with foot soreness. Throw in JaMychal Green’s injury and that is 3 rotation players already battling injuries, which has to make Grizzlies fans a bit nervous.

Next Game: Wednesday at Sacramento (9 p.m.)


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