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Gasol leads Grizzlies past Jazz for eighth straight win

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SALT LAKE CITY — The way the Memphis Grizzlies are playing, they certainly don’t need any extra help.

But they might have gotten some from the NBA schedule maker Wednesday night.

Center Marc Gasol scored 23 points and the Grizzlies won for the eighth straight time, beating the Utah Jazz 100-90 on Wednesday night at EnergySolutions Arena.

Gasol hit 9 of 18 shots from the field, scored 15 points in the second half, grabbed six rebounds and had four assists in helping Southwest Division-leading Memphis improve to 37-12.

“We’re just focusing. The road is important,” Memphis forward Zach Randolph said. “If you want to be a championship team, you have to start on the road first. We’re just focusing and we’re coming out playing together, and that’s what we’re doing.”

The Jazz lost for the second night in a row in a tough back-to-back situation, fighting until the final buzzer in a 103-102 loss at Portland on Tuesday followed by a rough matchup against the grinding Grizzlies.

“This was a tough game to play in a back-to-back, to have Portland on the road and then to come play these guys when they were waiting in the market,” Jazz coach Quin Snyder said. “We were tired, particularly on the perimeter because we’re thin there.”

Randolph contributed 18 points and 11 rebounds, and three other Grizzlies scored in double figures. Guard Nick Calathes chipped in with seven assists and six points.

The Grizzlies, who have won 12 of 13, have outscored opponents by 13.0 points per game during the winning streak.

It has been almost two years since the Grizzlies last won eight straight. Memphis hadn’t compiled this many victories in a row since February 2013.

Memphis coach Dave Joerger liked that his defensive-minded team held the Jazz to 39 points in the second half.

“I know they were on the second of a back-to-back, and we got them good in the second half,” Joerger said. “We kind of just ground them down a little bit. But they’re on their way. They’re going to be good.”

Point guard Trey Burke totaled 21 points, four assists and three rebounds off the bench for Utah.

The Jazz (17-32) had won three of five before the two losses.

Memphis took an early lead against the Jazz, pulling ahead 30-23 at the end of the first quarter after a buzzer-beating half-court shot by Randolph.

The Jazz managed to stay within about six points of the Grizzlies for most of the night, but could never mount a sustained challenge against Memphis’ defense.

“It’s always difficult playing against those guys. I mean, Zach Randolph and Marc Gasol, they’re both big, physical guys,” Jazz center Derrick Favors said. “The whole team, they took us out of our offense a little bit, but that’s just something we got to work on and learn from.”

Power forward Enes Kanter continued his strong play with 16 points and 10 rebounds, and small forward Gordon Hayward added 15 points and center Favors 11.

Utah snapped a four-game losing streak to the Grizzlies with a road win on Dec. 22. The Jazz picked up that victory when Randolph and Tony Allen were sidelined with injuries.

The Jazz, who continue their four-games-in-five-nights stretch Friday in Phoenix, weren’t that fortunate this time.

NOTES: The Grizzlies improved to 21-2 record against teams below .500, second only to the Warriors’ 22-2 mark. … The Grizzlies haven’t been outscored during the first or second quarter in their eight-game winning streak. … The next two Jazz opponents feature head coaches who used to play and coach for Utah: Phoenix’s Jeff Hornacek and Sacramento’s Tyrone Corbin. … Utah C Rudy Gobert leads the NBA in blocked shots since Jan. 1 with 48 before Wednesday’s game. Miami’s Hassan Whiteside is second with 45. He had two blocks Wednesday.

Up to the minute news and reports from the news wire of The Sports Xchange.

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