MEMPHIS, Tenn. — When it appeared as if the struggling Utah Jazz might snap their growing losing streak, the Memphis Grizzlies stepped up and refused to be part of a such a discussion.
Behind forward Zach Randolph’s 21 points and center Marc Gasol’s 20, the Grizzlies posted a 96-86 victory over the Jazz on Wednesday night. The Grizzlies (40-27) earned their eighth consecutive home win and their fifth straight victory over Utah at FedExForum.
The Jazz (22-47) lost their sixth straight and fell to 8-28 on the road, but gave the Grizzlies a scare.
Trailing by as many as 18 in the first half — and 12 early in the final period — the Jazz recovered to tie the game at 84 midway through the fourth quarter. The comeback set the stage for the Grizzlies to regain control.
“We struggled to get stops in the second half,” Grizzlies coach Dave Joerger said. “At 84-84, we stepped up our game, got three stops in a row, scored three times in a row and executed most of the rest of the way. It’s a good win and we’re moving on.”
Three Utah guards — Gordon Hayward, Trey Burke and Alec Burks — scored 16 points apiece.
Utah made its initial run at the Grizzlies in the third quarter. Trailing 48-32 at the half, the Jazz, behind the aggressive play of Hayward, cut the lead to 54-51 on a basket in the paint by center Enes Kanter.
“This team has a lot of character,” said Utah coach Tyrone Corbin. “We don’t like being embarrassed. We thought they were aggressive in the first half so we wanted to make sure we came out and, no matter what, lay everything on the line and see what happened.”
The Grizzlies bounced back behind guard Tony Allen and Gasol to take an 11-point lead into the final quarter. It didn’t hold.
Again behind Hayward, the Jazz tied the score at 84 with 5:39 to go on a steal and layup by Burks that capped an 8-0 run.
“We just came out in the second half and played hard,” said Jazz forward Derrick Favors. “We started hitting shots. Gordon Hayward got going and we were just out there playing hard. We will get one of these games sooner or later.”
Memphis closed the game with a 12-2 run that included six points from guard Mike Conley, who finished with 18, and two baskets in the paint from Randolph, who had 11 rebounds. The Grizzlies never trailed in the game.
“When they tied it, we executed and did what we were supposed to,” Gasol said. “If you want to win games at any level, you have to get stops. When we do what we are supposed to do, everything gets easier. When we break down and don’t do what we are supposed to, things get ugly quick.”
The Grizzlies jumped to a 12-2 lead in opening minutes and never trailed in the first half. When the Jazz made a run behind Burke to trim the Memphis advantage to 14-9, the comeback was undone by Conley, who scored 10 straight. The points were the only ones Conley managed in the first half.
Utah briefly trimmed the deficit under double digits (37-28) midway through the second quarter before the Grizzlies pulled away behind Gasol and Randolph.
Memphis eventually extended its advantage of 18 points in the final minute of the first half when Randolph dropped in two free throws. In the second half, the Jazz scored 54 points and made 24 field goals, a season-high allowed by the Grizzlies.
“The defensive intensity was high in the first half,” Conley said. “We got stops and we ran the ball. The second half we let them dictate the tempo a little.”
The Grizzlies outrebounded the Jazz 46-39 and both Randolph and Gasol finished with double-doubles. Gasol had 10 rebounds.
NOTES: The Grizzlies improved to 4-0 coming off three days rest. Earlier this season, they defeated the Rockets, Knicks and Lakers with the extra time off. … The Jazz are 1-11 over their past 12 games, with the only victory coming against the struggling Philadelphia 76ers. … The Grizzlies’ bench shot 9-for-21, ending its string of shooting better than 50 percent in 14 consecutive games. It was the longest such streak in the NBA since the Boston Celtics accomplished the feat in 15 straight in February-March 1986. … The Jazz did not score any fast-break points in the opening quarter, and it took nearly nine minutes into the second quarter before they converted on the run. … Since Memphis center Marc Gasol returned from injury Jan. 14, the Grizzlies are 23-8. … With the victory, the Grizzlies have won at least 40 games in five consecutive seasons to extend a franchise record. … Memphis moved percentage points ahead of Dallas into seventh place in the Western Conference standings with the win.
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