photo c/o NBA.com
Salt Lake City, Ut, October 29th, 2022 - Memphis Grizzlies vs Utah Jazz
As the game starts, I’m watching with a bit of angst because of the recent injury update that placed All-Star Point Guard, Ja Morant, out due to a non-COVID illness. In their most recent win against the Sacramento Kings, it was said that he was fighting the flu. Subsequently, he still finished with 22 pts, six assists, and five rebounds. Go figure. They are also with rookie forward Jake Laravia with a non-COVID illness. Last season the Grizzlies went 20-5 without Ja Morant but I was still not confident about this game.
The Utah Jazz (5-2) has gotten off to a hot start this season despite trading away All-Stars Rudy Gobert (Minnesota) and Donavan Mitchell (Cleveland) this off-season. Most NBA enthusiasts assumed they would be a tanking team this season because of all the trades they’ve made. However, they have brought back a lot of good but not great veterans to their team. Like Lauri Markkanen, Collin Sexton, Jared Vanderbilt, & Malik Beasley. Knowing that veterans won’t buy into the tanking game, they have gotten off to a great start and now sit third in the western conference. The Jazz also sat out Mike Conley (rest) & Rudy Gay (COVID protocols).
photo c/o the Associated Press
The Grizzlies take a 30 to 24 lead after the first quarter. The good so far, Dillon Brooks is playing very well on both offense (12 pts) and defense. With the bad, early foul trouble & the Grizzlies caught the turnover bug. They had three turnovers in the quarter.
The Jazz found their offense from the three-point line in the second quarter. The Grizzlies failed to rotate on defense to the three-point line for full possessions. That resulted in the Jazz dropping six threes in the quarter. Also, the refs decided to take ten minutes and call every offensive illegal screen they could find. Not just on one side of the floor but on both sides. Both teams were frustrated by this, resulting in multiple Grizzlies players in foul trouble. After a strong outing from the Jazz bench in the second quarter (20 pts), they lead the Grizz 62 to 54.
The third quarter started with the Grizz getting on a quick run, to make it a close game again. They still weren’t able to corral their defense on three-point shots, which is something that kept the Jazz from falling too many points off of the lead. The Grizzlies took the lead up to six points but lost it again to end the quarter. After the Grizzlies rookie, David Roddy makes a crucial mistake and fouls the Jazz wing Ochai Agbaji on a three-point attempt with 2.7 seconds left. The Jazz leads the Grizzlies 95 to 91 heading into the fourth quarter.
photo c/o The Commercial Appeal
The Grizzlies start the fourth quarter with a big run, sparked by Desmond Bane, and Brandon Clarke, and early foul trouble by the Jazz. The run gets the Grizzlies into the bonus after the first minute of the fourth quarter. Then the Grizzlies retake the lead while the Jazz starts to get sloppy momentarily. The Grizzlies get their lead up to six points before surrendering it again. Once again not being able to defend the three-point line kills the Grizzlies’ momentum. Kelly Olynyk had 23 points and got hot in the fourth quarter. The Grizzlies are down four with 22.5 seconds left in the game then Dillon Brooks makes a costly turnover on an after-timeout play. Now Olynyk has trouble getting the ball in bounds from the sideline. When he throws it inbounds, the ball gets tipped by Colin Sexton and Brandon Clarke on the pass.
photo c/o The Associated Press
Then, the baseline official calls the ball out of bounds off the Grizzles. They decided to challenge the call and they win it. The Grizzlies get the ball back with 19.2 seconds left in the game. They pass the ball inbounds to Brooks and he hits a fadeaway three leaning to the left. The score now is 123 to 124. The Grizzlies are down one point with only one foul to give. They play defense, force a turnover and get the ball back with 3.2 left on the game clock down one point. They throw the ball inbounds, and Dillon Brooks gets it and dribbles it out of bounds off of Olynyk. The Grizzlies have one more chance to win the game, with 1.4 left on the shot clock. They pass it into Desmond Bane, he catches it, slips then falls, and the clock runs out. Game over.
(Recap of final minutes in the video below)
Video c/o the NBA on YouTube
A terrible ending for a short-handed Grizzlies team without their superstar. They had every chance to win this game but careless turnovers and giving up nineteen-three-pointers lost the game for them. Having Ja Morant back will help them concerning turnovers and in the scoring department during the team’s cold streaks. The Grizzlies face the Jazz again on Monday, October 31st, will there be a different result? If the Grizzlies don’t tighten up their three-point defense, it won’t.