When you tune in for a Grizzlies/Jazz match up, you’re not doing it for the scoring. Both Memphis and Utah rank in the top five in the league in defense, and games between the two often turn into borderline unwatchable slop-fests.
Tonight’s game lived up to the billing in terms of limited scoring, but for a defensive contest, it was actually enjoyable to watch. And in the end, the Grizzlies came out of it with an 88-79 win.
This game turned out closer than it needed to be. The Grizzlies held a double-digit lead for a good part of the second half, but then turned the ball over multiple times. The Jazz had the Memphis lead down to five when Marc Gasol leaned into a shot, traveled, and drew a terrible call on Gobert, who then promptly got a technical called against him by complaining against said foul.
But, hey! The Grizzlies won, and that’s all that matters. Here are some quick notes on the game.
Chandler Parsons looking healthier, still on limit
So much of the recent discussion over Chandler Parsons had been negative, with some wondering if the first year of his four-year deal was going to be a loss. Parsons has not looked great moving around the court, and his shot wasn’t falling after returning from the bone bruise.
Things have looked much better over the last two games. In Friday’s win, Parsons had 10 points in his 15 minutes, and he put up similar numbers on Sunday, with 9 points. Even better, Parsons has gone 4-7 from behind the arc, and his shot actually looks normal! Parsons is definitely heating up.
More like Chandler Arsons cuz he's on fire— Brandon C. (@BallFromGrace) January 9, 2017
(I am not above shameless self-promotion.)
The Grizzlies are still being cautious with Parsons, though. According to Mike Wallace of Grind City Media, Parsons and Fizdale decided together to use all of Parsons’ minutes limit, which will remain at 15 for the time being, in the first half. The Grizzlies hope that by confining Parsons’ minutes to one half, he has an easier time rediscovering his rhythm on the court.
Parsons told me he and Fizdale ran through a few options before deciding on approach to allow him to play all his mins in 1st half for now.— Michael Wallace (@MyMikeCheck) January 9, 2017
When Parsons went out, Daniels went in, and it’s likely that the Grizzlies will continue doing that going forward while Parsons’ minutes are managed. We are still a ways away from Parsons being at full-time, but as his minutes increase, it will be interesting to see how Fizdale manages his wing rotation between Ennis, Parsons, Daniels, and Carter.
Note: I was just about to say that the Grizzlies could manage Carter’s minutes since he’s old, then he did this to end the third:
That Vince Carter guy has a future in this league.... pic.twitter.com/Q1ZY3pFdQW— Memphis Grizzlies (@memgrizz) January 9, 2017
Grizzlies survive Gasol foul trouble
Marc Gasol picked up his fourth foul around midway through the third, and that looked like it could’ve been trouble. After all, Utah has Favors and Gobert inside, and Memphis is without Deyonta Davis and Brandan Wright. Marc’s foul trouble could’ve been big trouble if Utah could’ve found a way to press the advantage.
Instead, the Jazz went smaller, and Fizdale, who had been playing Z-Bo and Marc together, was able to bring in JaMychal Green. Memphis didn’t miss a beat, and wound up getting into the fourth quarter with a 12-point lead.
Tony Allen, Point Guard still a thing
This was a major talking point during training camp, and at the time it was brushed off as possibly just a method of keeping TA engaged. But using Allen as the primary ball handler has been something Fizdale has gone to multiple times this season. Sometimes it’s to keep teams from sagging off of him offensively, forcing them to guard him.
Tonight, even with Andrew Harrison active and not playing terribly, Fizdale went to a lineup with no true point guard and allowed Allen to handle point guard duties. The results were mixed (the Grizzlies did turn the ball over on consecutive possessions), but weren’t a complete disaster, so that’s a plus.
With the win, the Grizzlies move on up in the Western Conference playoff picture. The Grizzlies currently sit fifth in the West, just two games back of the Clippers for the four seed.
The Grizzlies’ next game will come on Tuesday, when they make a trip to Oklahoma City to face Russell Westbrook and the Thunder.