The Memphis Grizzlies overcame a early 19-7 deficit Monday night to win their home opener Monday night 103-94 against the Utah Jazz. You couldn’t really blame the Grizzlies for having some early jitters as it was the home opener. Also, NBA Commissioner David Stern was in attendance along with new Grizzlies’ owner and chairman Robert J. Pera. Pera was introduced earlier in the day at a press conference.
Utah was hot early and took a 25-18 lead at the end of the first. The Grizzlies were ice cold early making just 2 of their first 19 shots, while the Jazz were 7 of 11. Memphis came back and narrowed the gap to 50-47 at halftime. Utah guard Mo Williams hit a 3 pointer with a second to go before the halftime buzzer to give the Jazz the lead. Memphis took control of the game with a 16-2 run late in the third quarter. The Jazz had tied it up at 61, but then guard Quincy Pondexter drained a three pointer for the Grizzlies. They would never trail again. Memphis took a 74-66 lead at the end of the third quarter. Utah pulled to within 5 points in the fourth but could never get closer. The Grizzlies led by as many as 14, and held on for the 103-94 victory to improve to 2-1 this young season. Dating back to last year, Memphis has won 12 straight games at the FedEx Forum in the regular season. Utah lost their third straight game to fall to 1-3 this season.
Things got a little chippy with 3.4 seconds left. Utah guard Randy Foye stole the ball with six seconds left. He ran down the court and Memphis Center Marc Gasol grabbed him in an attempt to keep him from falling. Gasol grabbed him by the upper shoulders, almost by the neck, so he was called for a flagrant one foul as Foye fell down. Williams came up and shoved Gasol, and was called for a technical foul. Gasol and Williams were not ejected, but could face discipline from the league.
Gasol led all scorers with 22 points. He almost had a triple double with 8 rebounds, 8 assists, and 3 blocks. Forward Zach Randolph had 16 points and 18 rebounds. Rudy Gay had 15 points, 5 rebounds and 2 blocks. Point guard Mike Conley had 16 points, 5 rebounds and 4 assists. Pondexter added 14 off the bench.
Memphis was 38/91 from the field (41.8%) including 5/14 from 3 point range. The Grizzlies were able to stay in the game early because of excellent free throw shooting. Memphis made 22 of 25 free throws. The Grizzlies had 51 rebounds, 21 assists, 9 steals, 10 blocks, and 12 turnovers. The Grizzlies gave up 18 points off turnovers. Memphis scored 20 fast break points and 60 points in the paint.
Utah shot 40/90 from the field (44.4%) including 5 of 15 from 3 point range. The Jazz were 9 of 13 from the free throw line. Utah had 42 rebounds, 20 assists, 8 steals and 8 blocks. The Jazz had 15 turnovers and allowed 13 points off turnovers. Utah had 18 fast break points and 52 fast break points.
Utah guard Gordon Hayward had 19 points, 5 rebounds and 2 assists. Williams had 17 points, 8 assists and 4 rebounds. Forward Paul Millsap had 14 points, 8 rebounds, 4 assists and 3 blocks. Center Al Jefferson had 11 points, 10 rebounds, 2 assists, and 2 blocks. Derrick Favors added 14 points, 8 rebounds, and 3 steals off the bench. Foye had 11 points and 3 assists.
Next up for the Grizzlies is a trip to Milwaukee Wednesday night to take on the Bucks as the Grizzlies try to go 3-1 to start the season. We will have complete coverage of that game on Wednesday morning.