The Utah Jazz have the best record in the NBA. On Saturday night, they hope to demonstrate their superiority to the Memphis Grizzlies once again.
The Jazz will be looking for a two-game sweep of the Grizzlies in their consecutive-night sequence when the clubs duel again in Salt Lake City.
Utah went 5-1 in its first three sets of consecutive games vs. the same foe, sweeping the New Orleans Pelicans and Dallas Mavericks and splitting with the Los Angeles Clippers.
The Jazz will shoot for another sweep Saturday after holding on for a nail-biting 117-114 win Friday.
The Grizzlies had a chance to force overtime, but Dillon Brooks misfired on a 3-point attempt with 5.5 seconds left.
Utah’s Mike Conley got tied up by Ja Morant after grabbing the rebound. The Memphis point guard of the past then outjumped the Grizzlies’ current point guard in a matchup otherwise dominated by Morant, allowing the Jazz to run out the clock for a fourth straight win overall and 18th victory in a row at home.
Conley, who gave up two inches and 12 years of youth to Morant in the key jump ball, outsmarted his rival on his own, even as Utah big man Rudy Gobert was pondering giving the little guy a tip.
“Normally I’d tell him to go up quick like me,” Gobert said after the game, “but I lost (the game’s opening tip to Memphis’ Jonas Valanciunas), so I couldn’t give him any advice. He wouldn’t take me seriously.”
Memphis has played four previous two-game series. The Grizzlies were swept by the Los Angeles Lakers, beat the San Antonio Spurs twice, then split with the Los Angeles Clippers and the Golden State Warriors.
On Friday, the Grizzlies battled the Jazz on even terms almost across the board. Utah held a slim edge in field-goal percentage (45.9 percent to 45.4 percent) and in rebounds (51-48). Each club made 12 3-pointers.
Grizzlies coach Taylor Jenkins was so proud of his team’s effort despite seeing a three-game winning streak disappear, he basically admitted afterward that he’d take the same performance in the rematch.
“Guys competed great. Heck of a ballgame,” he said. “Let’s go have another good one (Saturday).”
The Grizzlies had no answer for Donovan Mitchell, who led all scorers with 35 points. Along the way, he moved into third place on the Utah franchise 3-point charts, using 5-for-7 success to improve his career total to 690 treys, one more than Gordon Hayward.
Joe Ingles (916) and John Stockton (845) top the list.
Morant countered with 32 points for the Grizzlies. That pushed his career total to 1,855, a mere 9,878 behind Conley’s franchise-leading total of 11,733.
The rivals have gone head-to-head four times since Conley was dealt to the Jazz in July 2019, two weeks after the Grizzlies made Morant the second pick of the draft behind Zion Williamson.
Morant has won the scoring duel three of the four times, including 32-5 on Friday, but Conley’s team has come out a winner on three of the four occasions.
After Saturday’s rematch, the teams are scheduled to complete their rapid-fire, three-game season series Wednesday in Memphis.
–Field Level Media