The Memphis Grizzlies suffered their sixth straight defeat, losing to the Utah Jazz on Friday night, 103–94. The Grizzlies’ last win was against those same Jazz on Nov 15th at FedExForum before a national TV audience in the teams’ first matchup. Memphis is now 5–13 on the year.
Utah outscored Memphis 63–39 in the second half, after the Grizzlies led 55-40 at the half. The Grizzlies shot 45.7 percent in the first half, but the Jazz held them to 33.3 percent shooting in the second half. The Jazz scored 12 straight points to open the third quarter.
Third-quarter woes continue to plague Memphis early in the season. “We didn’t do what we needed to do in the third quarter, because we let them come out and punch us early and we didn’t respond,” said Grizzlies forward Jaren Jackson, Jr. “Credit to them. They were active on the glass, actively just making the right plays, hitting a lot of shots, but we have to know that that’s coming. Especially because we played well in the first half.”
Grizzlies head coach Taylor Jenkins didn’t mince words after the game. He said, “Great first half, terrible second half . Credit the Jazz. They came and played a whole lot harder than us in the third quarter, and that’s why they won the ball game.”
Jenkins described how the Jazz set the tone for the second half, “We turned over the first possession. We gave up an offensive rebound. They scored. We controlled the boards in the first half, and then the next possession, they go down and miss a wide-open layup in transition — get an offensive rebound, put it in, call timeout, come out and continue to get offensive rebounds. I think they had  second-chance points in the second half or something along those lines. It’s been a weakness of ours. We just didn’t come ready to play in the third quarter, and they took full advantage of it.”
“We came out with a sense of urgency,” said Utah guard Donovan Mitchell. “We knew we were better than what we showed. So, for us, it was just continuing to battle. It helps when Bojan [Bogdanovic] gets hot. Mike [Conley] made some crucial plays. Royce [O’Neale] had defensive stops, and we all did our best to do our part.”
Difficulties maintaining leads
For the sixth time this season, the Grizzlies blew a double-digit lead — the most in the NBA.
“We just have to execute,” said Jackson. “We have to continue to do the things that we were doing and expect the team to play harder, but we can’t expect them to bring the same energy or drop their energy because they’re losing. They probably got ripped at halftime. They’re probably feeling a type of way, and they’re probably getting amped up. We have to come out there and make sure we deliver.”
“We have to play all four quarters like we did in the first half,” said rookie guard Ja Morant. “It helped us get out to a bigger lead, I think like 15 points. We just have to do that all four quarters.”
Energy and effort may be an issue. Morant said of the second half, “It was us — high energy just died down and they just took advantage of it.”
“I feel like it was just us mainly coming out in the third quarter with a lack of energy, lack of focus and they capitalized on that,” said Grizzlies rookie forward Brandon Clarke.
The Grizzlies can’t win when Morant and Jackson combine for 7-of 26 from the field. Morant ended the game with 11 points (4-of-13) and four assists. Jackson chipped in nine points (3-of-13) and four assists plus four blocks. With his fourth block, he reached 100 career blocks and became the third-fastest player in franchise history to tally 100 career blocks, behind only Pau Gasol and Roy Rogers.
For the second consecutive game, Jonas Valanciunas was the Grizzlies high scorer with 22 points and 17 rebounds. He posted his 11th double-double of the season.
Clarke tallied 13 points off the bench and went 5-of-6 from the field. Clarke has a 64.3 percent field goal percentage this season.
Utah's Bojan Bogdanovic tied his season-high with 33 points while shooting 12-of-20 from the field (4–8 from three). He scored 16 points in the fourth quarter. Donovan Mitchell added 20 points, while Rudy Gobert notched his 11th double-double of the season with 13 points and 13 rebounds.
The Grizzlies will travel to Minnesota to take on the Timberwolves on Sunday. Tip-off at 2:30 pm, CST.