Jazz-Grizzlies Preview

NOEY KUPCHAN (STATS Writer)
The Associated PressApril 17, 2013

While they'll also need some help in order to make the playoffs, the Utah Jazz must beat the Memphis Grizzlies to keep their postseason hopes alive.

Unfortunately, wins haven't been easy to come by in Memphis.

The Jazz try to avoid a sixth loss in seven road matchups against the Grizzlies, who could possibly earn home-court advantage in a first-round series with a 14th home win in 15 tries Wednesday night.

After winning nine of 11, Utah (43-38) enters the last day of the regular season one game behind the Los Angeles Lakers for the eighth and final playoff spot in the Western Conference. The Jazz, who own the tiebreaker thanks to a better head-to-head record, will get in with a win Wednesday and a Lakers home loss to Houston.

"It comes down to one game now," Al Jefferson said. "It's a big game. The only thing we can worry about is what we can control, going out there and trying to take care of the game, and trying to win, and just leave the rest up to the Lakers, I guess."

The Lakers and Rockets are scheduled to start 2 1/2 hours after the Jazz and Grizzlies tip off.

"I guess I have to try and get in touch with Kevin McHale and tell him to handle it for me," said Jefferson, who played for the Rockets' coach when both were in Minnesota.

Winners of three straight on the road for the first time since a four-game run Dec. 18-29, 2010, the Jazz are coming off Monday's 96-80 victory at Minnesota. Jefferson, who three nights earlier posted a career high-tying 40 points and 13 rebounds in a 107-100 home win over the Timberwolves, had 22 and eight.

"Talk about this group of guys, man the character that they have, there was no quit in this group," coach Tyrone Corbin said. "The guys just continued to work."

The Jazz, though, could have a hard time keeping things going in Memphis, where they've dropped five of six, including a 103-94 loss during their last visit Nov. 5.

They've split their two meetings in Salt Lake City since, winning most recently 90-84 on March 16.

Memphis' Zach Randolph has given the Jazz problems this season, averaging 20.0 points - his second-highest against any opponent - and 14.3 rebounds.

The Grizzlies (55-26), who had won 13 straight at home before falling 91-87 to the Pacific Division-champion Los Angeles Clippers on Saturday, haven't dropped back-to-back contests on their own court since March 13-16, 2012.

The loss to the Clippers was costly, as it allowed Los Angeles to pull into a tie with Memphis in the standings.

Locked in as the West's No. 5 seed, the Grizzlies, who own the same record as Clippers, would host a first-round series against Los Angeles with a win Wednesday and a Clippers loss at Sacramento. If both teams win, the Clippers get home court in the first round.

After Saturday's defeat, Memphis got back on track Monday in a 103-97 win at Dallas. Jerryd Bayless had a team-leading 19 points off the bench and Ed Davis added 11 and 11 boards for the Grizzlies, who trailed by as many as 14 points in the second quarter.

"I thought in the first half our guys didn't come out and compete. They were treating it like an exhibition game," Hollins said. "I'm excited about the attitude that we took in the second half and we finished the game, and was really pleased that the second unit was able to finish the game."

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