The Jazz wouldn’t let another cellar dweller get the best of them.
“It’s a road victory and road victories are hard to come by, especially this year,” Williams said. “We’ll take them any way we can get them.”
Utah improved its road record to 13-19, but still is the only one of the six division leaders in the NBA with a losing record away from home.
Seven players scored in double figures for Utah, including all five starters. Carlos Boozer led Utah with 18 points, and Mehmet Okur finished with 17 points and 13 rebounds. Kyle Korver matched Okur’s 17 points, and Ronnie Brewer and Andrei Kirilenko scored 16 apiece. Paul Millsap added 14 points as the Jazz snapped a three-game road slide.
“It was an important game to try and win,” Jazz coach Jerry Sloan said. “Almost every game we play should have that kind of intensity. I know our numbers are not always as pretty as you would like them to be, but the point is trying to win.”
Utah held a 12-point lead early in the fourth, but Memphis used a 12-2 run to cut the margin to 82-80.
Memphis could never overtake Utah as the Jazz answered with a 16-3 rally to put the game out of reach. Okur had eight points in the stretch, including a 3-pointer from the top of the key as the shot clock ran down.
“Dagger,” Williams said of the basket. “Big shot. They were making a little run, and that kind of stopped that.”
The eight straight losses is the longest skid of the season for Memphis. The Grizzlies lost the last two games in January, were 1-11 in February and with Saturday’s loss, they have dropped 14 of 15.
“For us to go through this many different types of situations, it’s really going to help us for the years to come and help us grow as players,” rookie point guard Mike Conley said. “Hopefully, we can learn from it and develop from it.”
Memphis started well, but the Jazz overcame an early 11-point Grizzlies lead.
Boozer had 14 points to lead the Jazz in the first half, and Korver contributed 12, helping Utah carry a 53-49 lead at the break. Williams was engineering the Jazz offense with a dozen assists at that point. He finished one assist short of his season high and two short of his career high.
“We finally figured out everything that they were doing,” Boozer said. “We figured their zone out and Deron did a great job of getting everybody involved. Everybody did a great job of knocking down shots, and then it took off from there.”
Korver provided a spark off the bench to key a Utah rally in the second quarter, erasing the early Memphis lead with a 21-6 run to close the half.
Brewer had 10 points in the third period and Utah continued to extend the margin, building the advantage to 78-68 entering the fourth quarter.
“I think they out-toughed us,” Gay said. “…I think we got tough too late. By the time we got tough, we were looking back, and we were down 10. When it gets tough, I think we just have to take care of the basketball and run out offense even more. I don’t think we did that.”
Memphis was without G Mike Miller, the team’s second-leading scorer, for the sixth straight game because of a sore back. Memphis coach Marc Iavaroni said the earliest he expects Miller back is for Wednesday’s home game against New Jersey but “that’s not set in stone,” Iavaroni said. … Korver, who shoots 90 percent from the free throw line, missed two of three free throws when he was fouled outside the arc in the second quarter. … The last time Memphis lost eight straight was when it opened the 2002-03 season 0-13. …Utah swept the season series against Grizzlies for the first time since the move to Memphis in 2001. Utah’s average winning margin of the four games was 21.3 points.