PREVIEW: Utah Jazz look to extend win streak to four vs. Memphis Grizzlies

By Field Level Media
Mar 22, 2021; Chicago, Illinois, USA; Utah Jazz guard Donovan Mitchell (45) warms up before an NBA game against the Chicago Bulls at United Center. Mandatory Credit: Kamil Krzaczynski-USA TODAY Sports

The Utah Jazz appear to have put a short bumpy stretch behind them and now look for their fourth straight victory when they face the Memphis Grizzlies on Friday at Salt Lake City in the first of back-to-back games between the teams.

The Jazz own the NBA’s best record at 32-11 but were just 5-6 during an 11-game stretch before the latest winning streak.

They certainly look like they are back in form after winning the past two games by a combined 55 points — 120-95 over the Chicago Bulls on Monday and 118-88 over the Brooklyn Nets on Wednesday.

Brooklyn was without the star trio of James Harden, Kevin Durant and Kyrie Irving, but Utah didn’t relax in a wire-to-wire victory. The Jazz led by as many as 21 points in the opening quarter and 38 overall while delivering a major thumping.

“We really showed the mental fortitude throughout the entire game to continue to keep our foot on the pedal,” Jazz star shooting guard Donovan Mitchell said.

Mitchell scored 27 points on 11-of-18 shooting against the Nets and is averaging 32.5 over the past four games, including a season-best 42-point effort against the Washington Wizards on March 18.

Mitchell, who averages 25.4 points per game, has scored more than 20 points in each of the past 11 games.

Mitchell and teammate Georges Niang each made five 3-pointers and Bojan Bogdanovic knocked down four on Wednesday.

But reserve guard Jordan Clarkson suffered through a wretched shooting night — 1-of-15 overall, including 1-of-11 from 3-point range.

Clarkson is mired in a four-game shooting slump in which he has made just 12-of-55 shots (21.8 percent), including 6-of-35 (17.1 percent) from behind the arc.

Utah coach Quin Snyder maintains he’s not concerned with Clarkson’s sudden lack of efficiency.

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“We know who Jordan is. He’s been terrific and he’s had far more games where he’s made shots,” Snyder said. “But I think the thing we saw, you know there’s other ways to impact the game, and I thought you saw him really dig in defensively in the second half.”

The Jazz have won their past three matchups against Memphis entering the set of games that conclude Saturday in Salt Lake City. The matchup marks the first time the teams will meet this season.

The Grizzlies have also won three consecutive contests and began a four-game road trip with a 116-107 triumph over the Oklahoma City on Wednesday.

Dillon Brooks scored 25 points against Oklahoma City for his second straight 20-plus effort. He tallied 24 on Monday in a 132-126 overtime victory over the visiting Boston Celtics.

Grayson Allen stepped up with 20 points after being in single digits in three of the previous four games.

Point guard Ja Morant had just 11 points to go with seven assists and cited defense as the reason for the win. Morant had two steals and two blocked shots while the Grizzlies held the Thunder to 21 points in the first quarter and 20 in the third.

“I just feel like we picked up our defensive effort,” Morant said. “We were able to get stops and play in transition, which we like to do — get out and run. And it opened up a lot for us on the offensive end, got our offense going.”

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Center Jonas Valanciunas contributed 16 points and 15 rebounds for his 10th double-double in the past 11 games. He has 28 this season, 11 shy of his career-best mark from last season.

Brandon Clarke also made an impact by blocking a career-high five shots.

–Field Level Media

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