Thursday, March 27, 2014
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Late Rally Pushes Grizzlies Past Jazz

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[March 27, 2014]  SALT LAKE CITY  For about 44 minutes Wednesday night, the Memphis Grizzlies looked as if they might be content to join the Utah Jazz in the NBA's draft lottery pool.

The final four minutes of the game kept the Grizzlies right in the playoff mix.

Forward Zach Randolph scored 22 points, hit a key jumper during a late rally and nailed the clinching free throws as the Grizzlies stormed past the Jazz for a 91-87 win at EnergySolutions Arena.

Despite trailing for most of the night and by as many as 16 points, the Grizzlies (43-28) maintained their position in the seventh spot in the Western Conference playoff race. Memphis now trails the sixth-place Golden State Warriors (44-27), its opponent Friday, by just one game.

"I just think we've got a group of guys that cares about each other and cares about winning," Memphis coach David Joerger said. "We had our backs up against the wall tonight, and we did not play well. That's hard to overcome."

The Grizzlies needed to dig deep for the victory against the struggling Jazz.

"We just played this team in Memphis, so we definitely feel like we're supposed to win. We just have to keep fighting," Randolph said. "I just came out and played hard. They had a great game, had us on our heels the whole time. We just kept fighting."


Randolph beat the shot clock with a 19-foot jumper with 1:23 remaining to put Memphis up 87-84 during the Grizzlies' game-changing, 12-0 run. He then drained two foul shots with 11.6 seconds remaining.

Guard Mike Conley finished with 19 points, including several timely buckets in the late surge, and center Marc Gasol added 18 points and seven rebounds in the win.

"We stuck with it," Gasol said. "Most importantly, in the fourth quarter we had stops. Everybody was tied together, everybody was helping each other. ... If we would have done that the whole game, it probably ... would have been a different game from the first quarter."

Three Utah players finished with double-doubles.

Power forward Derrick Favors led the Jazz (23-49) with 22 points, and he added 10 rebounds. Center Enes Kanter contributed 11 points and 15 boards, and guard Trey Burke had 11 points and 10 assists.

"They competed," Joerger said. "When you look at Enes Kanter and Derrick Favors, they tried to say to Marc and Zach, 'We're the new bigs on the block and we're coming.' They were fantastic all game long and especially in the first half. Very active, very aggressive."

Guard Gordon Hayward scored 18 points for Utah, which led 84-77 with just over four minutes remaining before the momentum changed drastically.

"We had an opportunity to win the game," Jazz coach Tyrone Corbin said. "Give them credit. They had 29 points in the fourth quarter (to Utah's 16). They made the plays they needed to down the stretch."

Conley began Memphis' late comeback with a jumper to make it 84-79. Gasol followed with two free throws.

Forward Mike Miller gave the Grizzlies their first lead since 11-10 by hitting a 3-pointer and then a technical free throw after an offensive three-seconds call against the Jazz. That put Memphis up for good at 85-84.

The result got the Grizzlies off to a good start on their pivotal five-game Western road trip, which continues Friday against the Warriors in Oakland, Calif., and includes stops in Portland, Denver and Minnesota.

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Although the Jazz played much better than in Monday's 114-94 drubbing by the Detroit Pistons, they still ended up with their 13th loss in 15 games. Utah was looking for its first victory over a team with a winning record since a 109-86 blowout of the Phoenix Suns on Feb. 26.

"Like Coach Corbin said, tonight was going to be about going out and competing, and about heart," Burke said. "We left it out there for 48 minutes, that's one thing I can say. We played hard."

Memphis, which beat Utah 94-84 on March 19 at the FedEx Forum, swept the Jazz for the first time in nine years, going 3-0 this season. The Grizzlies have four consecutive wins over Utah, and seven victories in the past eight meetings.

The Jazz, who lost for the fifth time in their past six home games, were again without Alec Burks, their second-leading scorer (13.8 points per game). The backup guard missed his third game in a row due to a sprained left ankle. He played in the first 69 games of the season.

Memphis guard Tony Allen, who sat out Monday's 109-92 win over the Minnesota Timberwolves with a stomach illness, played 10 scoreless minutes Wednesday. He missed all of his five field-goal attempts.

Unlike their previous meeting with Memphis, when they trailed by 18 points, the Jazz established themselves early Wednesday. Favors scored 10 as Utah took a 25-17 lead after the first quarter.

The Jazz, playing a crisp offensive half, stretched the advantage to 50-40 by halftime.

Utah went ahead by its largest margin, 65-49, in the third quarter after a layup by forward Richard Jefferson.

Memphis started chipping into the lead with an 8-0 run that helped make it a nine-point game heading into the fourth quarter.

"Utah played very well. They played us very tough," Conley said. "We had to make a lot of plays to get back in the game. We're happy with the way we executed in the end, that we were able to stay together through the early struggles of the game."


NOTES: Asked about John Stockton on the Hall of Famer's 52nd birthday, Jazz rookie G Trey Burke recalled some memorable advice the legendary point guard gave him when they worked together last summer. Burke said Stockton told him, "You're going to face some adversity. You've got to learn how to get through it, and you've just got to learn from your mistakes." ... Grizzlies F Tayshaun Prince has started the second-most games (830) since the beginning of the 2003-04, trailing only Miami Heat F LeBron James. ... Memphis F Jon Leuer played for Jazz player development coach Alex Jensen last season when they were both with the NBA Development League's Canton Charge.

[ 2014 Thomson Reuters. All rights reserved.]

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