MEMPHIS, Tenn. (WMC) - Is the pressure off, or is it on going into the last five games of the NBA Bubble without star forward Jeran Jackson, Jr.?
I say it’s off because the Griz were way ahead of schedule for the youngest team in the NBA with a chance to make the playoffs.
But, with Jackson, and two other front line players, Tyus Jones, and Justise Winslow, out with injuries, their response against a veteran Utah team looking to move up in the seedings is fairly predictable.
The Griz start off just like you want them to in this one.
Ja Morant bouncing back from his worst game of the season against Pelicans, playing more like the presumptive Rookie of the Year.
Twenty points and nine assists in heavy minutes for Morant. he looked winded at the end though after logging 36 minutes -- his third straight game of playing almost 40.
Dillon Brooks, the villain in a couple of earlier matches, the star early in this one, taking good shots, and hitting them.
Everything in rhythm for Dillon. He runs it for 20 in the first half. But only three in the second before fouling out, trying to guard Donovan Mitchell. He does limit Mitchell to 18 points.
Grizzlies jump out to a 13-point lead and appeared to be cruising in the second quarter.
But, the Jazz come back, and how, just before the half?
How big of a comeback, you ask? How about a 22-1 run in the final 4:30 before the break.
Former Griz Mike Conley the architect -- 20 for Mike.
Joe Ingles leads all scorers with 25, including 7.
Rudy Gobert adds 21 and 16.
Jazz pull away from the Grizzlies late and win it 124-115.
Another bright spot off the bench, guard Grayson Allen sets a career high, hitting six of eight three-pointers, and a Memphis career high with 20 points against his old team.
The Jazz drafted Allen in 2018.A llen was asked if he was especially motivated against his old teammates.
“Nothing extra,” Allen said. “But there was a lot of trash being talked out there between me, Joe, Don, a bunch of the guys that I’ve practiced against all last year, it was good to hit some threes with them guarding me.”
Head Coach Taylor Jenkins summed up the game like this, “We’re just missing some shots down at the end of the game, they made some plays, great execution on their part and then for us, pretty good execution and we need to get a couple shots to fall and that just kind of makes it tough.”
Jenkins was asked how the bubble’s reality has been compared to his expectations and he said plain and simple, he wished they’d played better and didn’t get hurt.
Grizz are halfway thru the first eight seeding games, taking on OKC Friday at 3 p.m.