SALT LAKE CITY (AP)—The Memphis Grizzlies arrived in Salt Lake City just hours before their game against the Jazz, and coming off a lackluster loss in Denver the day before.
Still, the Grizzlies looked fresh right from the tip-off Saturday night.
Memphis’ flight got in late because of fog at the Salt Lake City airport.
“It was really imperative we got started off right. We told each other we needed to come out with energy or it would be a long night,” Battier said.
Kirilenko scored two points and had two blocks in just 12 minutes of play in his first game after missing 26 with a sprained knee.
“I feel a little bit of tiredness, heavy when I jump. Sometimes my mind was ready to get the rebound but my body didn’t,” Kirilenko said.
Reserve Brian Cardinal added 14 points for the Grizzlies, who snapped a five-game losing streak in Salt Lake City. Bouncing back from a 92-82 loss in Denver on Friday, the Grizzlies shot 57 percent from the field and made 11 of 19 3-point shots.
“We started off the right way. We got some good shots and established a lead and we were able to keep it the whole game,” said Gasol, who had scored only 13 points in his previous two games.
Trailing the entire game, the Jazz got as close as 67-66 on Mehmet Okur’s 3-pointer with 2:53 left in the third quarter.
Led by Earl Watson’s seven points and skillful direction of the Grizzlies’ motion offense, Memphis went on a 16-4 run that was punctuated by Gasol’s dunk to make it 83-70.
“I think this shows the character of these individuals. They didn’t like the way things went (in Denver) and tonight we just played good basketball,” Memphis coach Mike Fratello said.
Minutes later, the Grizzlies went on a game-clinching 13-3 spurt that featured five layups and dunks through Utah’s porous defense. Watson finished with 12 points and six assists.
“It would have been easy to pack it in on a game like this in a place where we have lost so many games. But we did the opposite. We really brought it and I’m proud of our team’s effort,” Battier said.
Okur led the Jazz with 22 points in 25 minutes off the bench. Carlos Boozer had 17 points and 10 rebounds while Keith McLeod and Gordan Giricek each had 15 points for Utah, which dropped its third in four games.
Kirilenko entered the game with 5:18 left in the first quarter to a standing ovation. Playing with a bulky brace on his right knee, Kirilenko made a driving layup and was fouled on his first offensive play. He missed the resulting free throw badly, barely grazing the rim.
Though he didn’t score again, the lanky Russian blocked two shots and created his usual havoc on defense that the Jazz have sorely missed. Utah had a 6-20 record without Kirilenko.
The Grizzlies led by as many as 15 in the first half, but Memphis didn’t score a field goal for the last 6:45 of the second quarter and made just six of 10 from the free throw line. But the Jazz only closed the gap to 47-41 on Giricek’s runner just before the halftime buzzer.
“It looked like we’re disinterested,” Utah coach Jerry Sloan said.
The Jazz played their first game without Carlos Arroyo, who was traded Friday to Detroit for Elden Campbell and a future first-round draft choice. Arroyo, who started the season as Utah’s primary point guard and signed a four-year, $16 million contract in the offseason, had been mired on the bench as the Jazz fourth point guard in recent games.
When Kirilenko was activated Saturday, the Jazz placed guard Kirk Snyder on the injured list. … McLeod lay face-down on the court for several moments after colliding with Battier on a desperation shot from midcourt at the third-quarter buzzer. McLeod did return. … Raja Bell got a technical with 10:52 left in the game by sarcastically clapping at official Derek Richardson after a foul call. … Bonzi Wells left with a pulled groin in the fourth quarter and will be evaluated after the game.