The Grizzlies were once again without starting point guard Ja Morant and he was joined on the bench by the number one Jazz killer Dillon Brooks. Without Morant and Brooks, the Grizzlies struggled to find easy offense in the half-court but made the game ugly enough to keep it close through regulation.
It was a gutsy effort in a hostile environment despite the loss. Lets look at who stepped up in the matchup and give out some grades.
Steven Adams - 3 points (1-4 FG), 8 assists, 13 rebounds
Adams battled two seven-footers for rebounds all night long in Rudy Gobert and Hassan Whiteside. Adams’ unique ability to get into position and his strength made him a force for the Grizzlies to finish defensive possessions.
Adams’ truly great flashes tonight though came from his ability as a passer. 8 of the Grizzlies’ 26 assists came by way of Adams in the post. He was setting up cutters with great looks as the Memphis wings repeatedly cut backdoor on the Jazz defense.
Adams and Tyus Jones also combined for a really nice stretch of two-man actions in the second quarter as Jones scored 9 points.
There were some opportunities for Adams to add to his scoring total that I would’ve liked him to take more advantage of. In an attempt to limit him as a passer and the backdoor cuts, the Utah defense sagged on Adams when he would face up in the mid-post later in the game. I know Adams isn’t known for scoring outside of dunks and layups, but even a one dribble floater a couple of times a game in those possessions at least make defenses have to respect that as an option.
All in all it was another quintessential Adams game, doing all the dirty work and moving bodies inside. If the Grizzlies really needed this win in a playoff series I believe Adams is out there to keep Gobert off the offensive boards in crunch time, but it was a good opportunity for Ziaire Williams to feel a hostile environment in a low stakes game.
Tyus Jones - 24 points (10-19 FG, 4-4 3P), 5 assists, 2 rebounds
Jones has continued to show why he is the greatest backup point guard in the NBA. In the last seven games he has started in the absence of Ja Morant, Jones has averaged 15.6 points on 48.8% shooting, 7 assists, and has turned the ball over just 4 times in that span. His three-point shooting has also been a real weapon hitting at a 56.7% clip from deep including a 4-4 night in Utah.
It’s hard to forget about Ja but at times the Grizzlies still run so smoothly with Jones that it feels like a team who still has their starting point guard. His steady hand has been key in this run over the past two and half weeks.
Along with JJJ, Jones was really one of the few who showed up in the fourth quarter to help the Grizzlies force overtime. Jones and Jackson combined for 19 of the Grizzlies 27 fourth-quarter points. But, his missed layup on a fastbreak that would’ve given the Grizzlies a one-point lead with 10 seconds left in the game could’ve kept this game from ever even getting to overtime in the first place.
Jaren Jackson Jr. - 28 points (8-27 FG 3-10 3P), 7 rebounds, 3 blocks
Jackson started off slow offensively, settling for outside shots when he had a clear advantage against Royce O’Neale. Once he started attacking the painted area he found more success taking guys off the dribble and finishing on the interior.
Defensively, Jackson was active with 3 blocks and a steal. His block of Mike Conley in the third quarter broke the Grizzlies record for blocks in a season previously held by Pau Gasol.
With the game on the line in crunch time, Jackson really stepped up. He scored 11 points and went 3-4 from three in the fourth quarter with all of his makes coming in the final two minutes.
In the overtime period, Jackson and the rest of the Grizzlies ran out of gas as the Jazz closed it out by really attacking the offensive glass. In those closing moments, Ziaire Williams was the other “big” on the floor with Jackson which did not help the Grizzlies in the rebounding department. I would’ve liked to see Jackson put up more of a fight to finish defensive possessions late in the game.
Desmond Bane - 23 points (8-21 FG, 3-8 3P), 2 assists, 7 rebounds
Bane struggled early with just 9 points in the first half. Without Dillon Brooks, his perimeter scoring was going to be needed for the Grizzlies to have any chance in Utah. Bane would finish the game with 23 points but it wasn’t his most efficient scoring night shooting 38% from the floor. He seemed to be forcing shots early and the great thing about Bane is he is best when he lets the game come to him.
This was also the least amount of assists Bane has had since Morant went out with an injury in Atlanta and his only two assists came in early in the first half. Bane has really blossomed as a playmaker without Ja in the lineup and it had been great to watch him operate as a secondary ball-handler but being asked to carry a larger scoring load in Utah he struggled setting up his teammates for scoring opportunities.
I will give Bane a lot of credit though, he was active on the defensive end recording 5 steals and played a big role in Donovan Mitchell’s 6-24 shooting night. Based on the defensive effort and a couple of jawing sessions with the Jazz bench, Bane stepped into Dillon Brook’s shoes in more ways than one.
Team Grade: B
If the Grizzlies win this game it’s an easy A- at the minimum. Utah is a really tough place to play and Memphis was once again missing key starters. We couldn’t expect this cast of characters to win every single game down the stretch and I think this was a good effort on the road against a team with the fourth-best home winning percentage on the season.
It was a good effort but this was another one of those games where the Grizzlies just did not shoot it well at just 38.6% from the floor. When you play against a great shooting team like the Jazz in the playoffs the Grizzlies have to be more efficient.
On the flipside, Memphis also played some great defense and held the Jazz to just 31.6% three-point shooting, their season average is 47.1%. The Grizzlies made it tough on them to hit shots and Mitchell in particular looked out of sync all night and that was without their best perimeter defender.