The 14-6 Memphis Grizzlies have lost 3 straight games. They look to conclude a 3 game road trip on Saturday night with a win at the 13-11 Utah Jazz. It won’t be easy as Energy Solutions Arena in Salt Lake City is one of the toughest places to play in the NBA. The Jazz are 9-1 at home this season.
A week ago, the Grizzlies had the best record in basketball. Now with the losing streak, the Grizzlies have dropped to the fourth seed in the West behind the Oklahoma City Thunder, San Antonio Spurs, and Los Angeles Clippers. The Grizzlies are 2 games behind the Spurs in the Southwest Division.
Memphis, coached by Lionel Hollins, lost last night at the Denver Nuggets 99-94. Grizzlies’ forward Rudy Gay missed a 3 pointer with 4.9 seconds left that would have tied the game. The Nuggets then made two free throws to ice the game. The Grizzlies lost 93-83 last Saturday at home to the Atlanta Hawks, and Wednesday night at the Phoenix Suns 82-80.
Utah is in a virtual tie with the Minnesota Timberwolves 6.5 games behind Oklahoma City in the Northwest Division. The Jazz are currently the #7 seed in the West. Utah lost last night in Phoenix 99-84 to snap a 4 game winning streak for the Jazz, coached by Tyrone Corbin.
Memphis hasn’t won at Utah since January of 2007. That is a stretch of 9 games. The Grizzlies beat the Jazz early this season in the home opener for Memphis 103-94. The two teams will play twice more this season, including March 16 in Salt Lake City and they will close out the regular season April 17 in Memphis.
Memphis is outscoring teams 97-91 this season. They are second in the league league in points allowed and are #16 in scoring. The Grizzlies are shooting 44.2% from the field and 36% from 3 point range. The Grizzlies are #15 in field goal percentage and #11 in three point shooting. Memphis is #3 in the league in free throw shooting at 80.5% from the line. The Grizzlies average 42 rebounds per game and give up 39.4. Memphis is #3 in rebounds allowed. Grizzlies’ opponents are shooting 43.6% from the field and 34.5% from 3 point range. Memphis is in the top 8 in the league in both categories. The Grizzlies average 21.2 assists, 9.3 steals, 5.8 blocks and 15.1 turnovers a game.
Small forward Rudy Gay averages 19.2 points per game, 6.4 rebounds, 2.5 assists, 1.5 steals and 1.1 blocks a game. Forward Zach Randolph averages 17.2 points, 12.4 rebounds to lead the team, and 1.2 assists per game. Randolph is second in the league in rebounding. Center Marc Gasol averages 15.4 points, 7.2 rebounds, 4.4 assists, and 1.8 blocks per game to lead the team. Point guard Mike Conley, Jr. averages 13.9 points, 2.9 rebounds, 6.2 assists, and 2.5 steals a game to lead the team in the latter two categories. Guard Tony Allen, forward Marreese Speights, Bayless, forward Quincy Pondexter, Guard Wayne Ellington and forward Darrell Arthur make up the rest of the rotation. Allen starts at shooting guard. Arthur is questionable Saturday with a cut inside his mouth suffered in Friday’s loss to the Nuggets.
Utah is outscoring teams 100.5-99.2 this season. The Jazz are #9 in scoring, and average almost 104 points per game at home. Utah is shooting 45% from the field and 37.3% from 3 point range. The Jazz are in the top 12 in the league in both categories. Utah makes 76.1% of their free throws. The Jazz average 43.7 rebounds per game and give up 42. The Jazz are #8 in rebounding. Utah opponents are shooting 45.1% from the field and 37% from 3 point range. The Jazz average 22.9 assists, 8.3 steals, 7 blocks, and 14.9 turnovers.
Center Al Jefferson averages 17.3 points, 10.4 rebounds, 2 assists, 1.1 steals, and 1.2 blocks per game. Forward Paul Millsap averages 15.3 points, 8.4 rebounds, 2.8 assists, 1.1 steals, and 1 block a game. Point guard Mo Williams averages 13.4 points, 2.2 rebounds, 7 assists, and 1.1 steals per game. Guard Gordon Hayward averages 13.4 points, 3 rebounds, and 2.2 assists. Guard Randy Foye averages 11.3 points, 1.4 rebounds, and 1.9 assists. Forward Marvin Williams averages 9.9 points and 3.7 rebounds. Forward Derrick Favors averages 9.2 points, 7.2 rebounds, and 1.7 blocks per game. Center Enes Kanter, forward DeMarre Carroll and point guard Jamaal Tinsley make up the rest of the rotation.
It is starting to sound like a broken record, but Memphis has to stop turning the ball over so much if they want to break out of their slump. They also aren’t shooting very well right now, averaging just 86 points a game in the last 3. Gay is the only Grizzly scoring consistently right now. They will be fine but they need to get back to playing the tough hard-nosed style that led them t0 so much success earlier in the season. Utah wins at home tonight though.