Jazz 118, Grizzlies 108
SALT LAKE CITY (AP)—The Jazz listened to their coach and bounced back from an ugly loss.
“We didn’t have a total team effort last night,” coach Jerry Sloan said. “I thought we had a total team effort tonight to change things around. The guys played hard.”
The victory, one night after losing by 104-72 to the Clippers, put the Jazz on the verge of clinching their first playoff berth since 2003.
“This speaks volumes about our character, how we bounced back from yesterday,” Boozer said. “We’re at our best when we’re helping each other.”
Reserve Matt Harpring, one of three remaining Jazz players from the 2002-03 playoff team, had 24 points, and Deron Williams added 21 points and 13 assists for the Jazz, who have won five straight and 11 of 12 at home.
The Jazz can officially clinch with one more victory in their final 13 games, or if one of the teams near the bottom of the pack loses. Utah doesn’t want to back into the postseason.
“I think that 30 games ago we knew we were going to the playoffs, so it’s not that big of a deal for us right now,” Harpring said. “But we said we didn’t just want to go to the playoffs, we want to go deep in the playoffs.”
Rookie Tarence Kinsey scored a career-high 20 points for the Grizzlies, who have an NBA-worst 5-29 road record.
“Tarence should be playing more anyway. We’re a little hamstrung as to why we don t play him and that will end after tonight. Period,” Memphis coach Tony Barone said. “He took the ball and dunked over Kirilenko and we don’t have anybody on our team that even tries to do that.”
One of the Grizzlies’ five road wins came against the Jazz, whom they defeated 132-130 in overtime on Jan. 24. This game was different from the start.
The Jazz had 19 assists on their first 21 field goals as they shredded Memphis’ man and zone defenses for layups and dunks. Boozer had 14 points and 10 rebounds by halftime to boost Utah to a 67-45 lead.
“They really took us apart when we played that zone, with the activity that they had on offense with all those cuts,” Gasol said. “They got too many good looks.”
After scoring four points in the first half, Mike Miller sat out the second half with patella tendinitis. Jones took advantage of his extended minutes to better his career scoring high of 23 points against Philadelphia on Feb. 9, 2005. Kinsey’s previous high was 13 against New Jersey last week.
Memphis trimmed Utah’s lead to 13 when Jones made a steal and a dunk in the third quarter. He got a technical for hanging on the rim. Harpring hit the free throw, which started a string of seven straight points for Utah. The Jazz led by at least 16 points until the Grizzlies scored the last eight points of the game.
Boozer made 13-of-17 shots in posting his 42nd double-double. The Jazz power forward averaged more than 28 points and 14 rebounds this season against Memphis, which has the worst field-goal percentage defense in the NBA.
“The Jazz have a system. They run the system. Their players fit into the system. They don’t fight the system and they win a lot of basketball games,” Barone said.
When the Jazz made the playoffs in 2002-03, their 20th consecutive trip, perennial All-Stars John Stockton and Karl Malone were wearing Utah uniforms. The Jazz lost in the first round that season to Sacramento and then narrowly missed the postseason in two of the next three campaigns.
Deron Williams and Utah coach Jerry Sloan both got technical fouls in the first quarter as the Grizzlies shot 20 free throws in the period. … The Jazz won the season series (3-1) against the Grizzlies for the first time in three seasons. … Derek Fisher had seven assists to surpass 2,500 for his career. … Gasol made 9-of-10 field goals, but just 7-of-12 free throws. … Damon Stoudamire started but played only 6 minutes.