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VOL. 132 | NO. 6 | Monday, January 9, 2017

Grizzlies Back up Dramatic Win over Warriors by Beating Utah

Team Avoids Letdown in 88-79 Victory

By Don Wade

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Two nights earlier the Grizzlies had pulled off a historic comeback at Golden State. When they erased the Warriors’ 19-point lead at the start of the fourth quarter and rallied to win it, 128-119 in overtime, they broke a 662-game streak (regular season) of NBA of teams losing when trailing by 19 or more points after three quarters.

Grizzlies point guard Mike Conley (11) led the team with 19 points and nine assists in an 88-79 victory over the Utah Jazz at FedExForum on Sunday, Jan. 8. The victory came two nights after the Grizzlies rallied from a 24-point deficit at Golden State to beat the Warriors in overtime. Conley said the Grizzlies’ top goal coming into the game vs. Utah was to not have an emotional letdown.

(AP Photo/Brandon Dill)

It was a statement. And it was emotional.

But 48 hours later, on Sunday night at FedExForum against the Utah Jazz, it would mean nothing.

“That’s the NBA,” Memphis coach David Fizdale said before the Utah game. “You can’t hang on to the wins and you can’t hang on to the losses.”

So, before the Grizzlies ever thought about guarding the Jazz’s Gordon Hayward or pulling rim-protecting center Rudy Gobert away from the basket, they had to defend against a letdown.

“That was the No. 1 thing for us, to build off that win and not be happy with it, not come out and lay an egg,” said point guard Mike Conley, who scored 19 points with nine assists as Memphis held off the Jazz for an 88-79 victory.

Although the Jazz put up 28 points in the fourth quarter as they rallied from a 17-point deficit to pull within five with 1:10 left in the game, the Grizzlies held them to 18 points or less in each of the other three quarters and forced 18 turnovers that translated into 26 points.

“That is what they do,” said Hayward, who had a game-high 22 points with five rebounds. “They’re good at it. They’ve got guys that pressure the ball and are good defenders, forcing you to do things you don’t want to do at times and speed you up.”

Center Marc Gasol, who had 17 points, liked the team’s effort against a Utah team that will make an opponent work for much of the shot clock on the defensive end.

“We communicated,” Gasol said. “Very unselfish defensively, great job moving and sacrificing our bodies.”

Although Conley said it was too early to make much of this win over the Jazz, he also admitted he was “very aware” of how close they are in the standings. After Sunday night’s game, Memphis stood 24-16 and Utah was 23-16. The Grizzlies also are 2-1 in the season series. The teams meet for the final time on Jan. 28 in Salt Lake City.

Power forward Zach Randolph, who had 13 points and 11 rebounds off the bench, said by following the win over the Warriors with a victory over the Jazz the Grizzlies “showed how versatile we are.”

Conley agreed.

“Tonight was more of our old-school-style,” he said. “We knew it would be that way with Utah’s defense and the way they methodically move the ball. And with Golden State, you knew it was gonna be a rat race. But it’s about getting the one or two stops at the end to get you the win and we were able to do that there as well.”


•Forward JaMychal Green, who is wearing a mask because of a facial fracture, scored eight points with six rebounds before fouling out against Utah. The hardest part about wearing the mask? Getting air. “I got to learn how to breathe with it,” he said. “They readjusted it, and it’s starting to feel a little better on my face.”

•The Grizzlies continue to be careful with forward Chandler Parsons (knees) and he played just under 16 minutes Sunday, scoring nine points and hitting two of the three 3-pointers he attempted. “I think his legs are finally coming back a little bit,” Fizdale said.

•Jazz coach Quin Snyder caught some of the Grizzlies’ miraculous win at Golden State, but he didn’t necessarily think it was a miracle. “That tough-mindedness, it’s not surprising frankly,” he said. “It’s surprising given the situation, but it’s kind of their DNA.”

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