SALT LAKE CITY -- Gordon Hayward took advantage of his new starting role Saturday night, scoring a team-high 17 points.
But it was what Hayward did at the end of the game that really paid off for the Utah Jazz.
Hayward hit a key 3-pointer with 17.3 seconds remaining to give the slumping Jazz a much-needed 90-84 victory over the Memphis Grizzlies at EnergySolutions Arena.
The Jazz swingman was more impressed by the overall gutsy effort his whole team had while handing Memphis a rare second loss in a row.
"We needed to make sure we came in and were the aggressor," said Hayward, who added eight rebounds and three assists. "They are good defensively themselves and are physical. We wanted to make sure we punched first and I thought we did that tonight."
Hayward started for the first time since Nov. 16 in Philadelphia as Jazz coach Tyrone Corbin tried to shake things up for his slumping squad. His late 3-pointer put an end to a furious Jerryd Bayless-led Memphis rally.
The win was just the Jazz's third in their last 11 games. Utah (34-32) moved a half-game behind the Los Angeles Lakers (35-32) for the eighth spot in the Western Conference playoff positioning.
"We need a win against anybody," Corbin said. "We need to win our share of games out to have a chance to make the playoffs.
"Great win here on our home court against a quality ball club. We have to continue it. It shows us how we can play if we put our minds to it and how we are going to have to play the rest of the way to have a chance to make the playoffs."
Bayless scored eight late points to give the road-weary Grizzlies (44-21) one last strong push in the final minutes, but his 24-point night wasn't enough to prevent Memphis from losing for a second consecutive night after Friday's 87-70 setback in Denver.
"It's tough, but we have another game on Monday where we will be able to bounce back, hopefully," Bayless said. "We have a day (Sunday) to get feeling better and get back at it on Monday. We wish we could have won (Saturday), but at the same time it wasn't a bad roadtrip. We would have liked to win both of these (last two) games; we were involved and could have won them."
Al Jefferson scored 14 points, Paul Millsap and Mo Williams each had 13, and Derrick Favors gave a strong 10-point effort off the bench for Utah.
Zach Randolph scored 19 points for the Grizzlies, whose nine-point third quarter came back to haunt them in just their third loss in 17 games.
"We were playing a little bit too slow and something we really need to work on, to pick up the pace," Bayless said of the third quarter.
Memphis withstood the Jazz's lineup change and a strong first-half performance by the struggling home team, taking a 50-45 lead into the break.
But the Jazz, desperate for a win, picked up their play in the second half.
Utah opened the third quarter on a 10-1 run and then surged again later in the quarter by scoring 10 straight points. The 10th point in that second run came on a Mo Williams free throw after a technical foul by Memphis coach Lionel Hollins, giving the Jazz a 67-55 lead with 1:55 remaining in the third quarter.
"Well that was a tough loss," Hollins said. "We had crucial turnovers and we had nine points in the third quarter. We just didn't make enough plays."
As is usually the case whenever the Grizzlies and Jazz get together, the fourth quarter got chippy and physical. It even included a bizarre sequence in which Marc Gasol lost his shoe on one end of the court, ran down to the other end and slapped Favors with it for a personal foul.
Also as expected, Memphis made a strong charge in the fourth quarter.
The Grizzlies used a 9-0 run to get within four with 10 minutes remaining, and Memphis continued to claw at Utah.
Gasol trimmed the Jazz's lead to 75-73 with a hook shot with 5:52 left.
That, however, is when a strategic move by Corbin paid off. He put three big Jazz players in together -- Jefferson, Millsap and Favors -- along with Hayward and Williams to counter the scrappy and lengthy Grizzlies.
The move paid off.
Favors first scored on a sweet spin move past Gasol. Jefferson then had a hook to give Utah some breathing room.
"We knew they played four games in five nights. We also knew they were going to be very physical," Jefferson said. "We were going to have to match their energy tonight or we were going to get embarrassed."
Gasol interrupted the Jazz spurt with a three-point play, but Utah kept at it. Millsap hit two free throws and Hayward drained a 3-pointer to put the lead back in double-digit range, 87-76 with just under three minutes left.
Bayless made things interesting down the stretch by scoring eight straight points, including a spinning layup and two 3-pointers.
The backup's scoring outburst made it 87-84 for Utah with 1:16 remaining, but Mo Williams forced Bayless into a costly turnover with 38.4 seconds to go. Hayward then clinched the Jazz win with a 3-pointer with 17.3 seconds left.
NOTES: Most NBA players change their shoes every few games. Not Jazz small forward Marvin Williams. "I don't really like wearing new shoes," he said when the topic of shoes came up after Saturday's shootaround. "I've been wearing the same shoes I have for the past few months." He plans on finishing out the season -- at least 16 more games -- in this worn-in pair. But Williams knows he's unique in that preference. "I've had guys that change them every few games," he said. "I've had teammates who change them at halftime." ... A female fan's face was bloodied, requiring medical attention, after Jazz center Enes Kanter accidentally ran into her while jumping out of bounds after a loose ball in the first half. ... With 16 games remaining, the Grizzlies remain on track to smash the franchise record of 50 wins (2003-04). ... Utah had beaten Memphis nine times in a row before the Grizzlies ended the streak in December.