With last night’s loss fresh on their minds, the Jazz came out fighting on the offensive end of the floor. Perhaps the defeat was especially fresh on the mind of Jazz point guard Devin Harris, who scored only three points on one-of-six shooting last night against the Hornets. Harris played aggressively tonight, scoring ten points in the first quarter and 20 points on the night.
A somewhat sluggish first-quarter defensive effort gave way to a very active second quarter. The Jazz grabbed five steals and four blocked shots, while forcing five Memphis turnovers. Meanwhile, Al Jefferson came alive on the offensive end of the floor as he scored eight second-quarter points. By holding the Grizzlies to only 22 points in the second quarter, the Jazz earned a one-point advantage heading into the halftime break.
Despite continued defensive intensity in the third quarter, Memphis star Rudy Gay managed to score 12 points on 5-of-8 shooting. Along with Gay’s efficient offensive performance, the Grizzlies began a steady stream of trips to the foul line that would eventually lead to a 17-34 free-throw attempt differential in favor of the Grizzlies. Nevertheless, the Jazz rallied back with a 9-0 scoring run and finished the quarter with a rare Paul Millsap three-point field goal.
Entering the fourth quarter, the Jazz held a comfortable six-point lead and looked as if they might earn their redemption and wrap up a difficult road trip with a respectable 2-1 record. Unfortunately for the Jazz, things quickly unraveled in the final period.
“We had the game controlled up until the fourth quarter,” said Paul Millsap following the game. “They were more aggressive in the fourth quarter, they knocked down shots when they needed to.”
Specifically, O.J. Mayo knocked down shots. The Memphis reserve guard made four crucial three-point shots on his way to scoring 17 fourth-quarter points. While Mayo heated up, the Jazz went stone cold, making only 7 of 21 fourth-quarter field goal attempts. A costly turnover in the final minute allowed Mayo to sink one last three-point shot and seal the fate of the Utah Jazz.
Following the loss, an always-optimistic Coach Tyrone Corbin expressed a desire to continue fighting for the playoffs. “We need to win games. We, unfortunately, lost two tough ball games here in a row,” Corbin stated before waxing hopeful. “We have five left, and we want to try to win all five and see what happens …. We’re not out of [the playoff race by any] stretch of the imagination.”
Having thus far failed to convert necessity into victory, however, the Jazz will need more than imagination if they are to play in the post-season. Trailing two full games, with only five contests remaining, the Jazz may need a miracle.