Utah Jazz lose third straight, fall 103-94 in Memphis
Memphis, Tenn. • They promised that these losses would not set the tone for the rest of the season. Strides have been made, they vowed.
The Jazz always said the right things, but in three road losses in five nights, they failed to actually do them.
On Monday, the Jazz blew a 12-point first-half lead to limp to a 103-94 loss against the Grizzlies in front of 17,401 at FedEx Forum.
"It's too early to get down," Mo Williams said. "We just want to take the positives and continue to do the things we need to do and get a win."
Monday was a carnival in Memphis. It was the Grizzlies' home opener and first game with new owner Robert Pera in his courtside seat and NBA Commissioner David Stern on hand. While the Jazz initially stole the show, jumping out to a 19-7 lead, there would be little celebrate for Utah.
Marvin Williams continued to struggle, and Alec Burks was ineffective in his most significant minutes of the season. The big lineup, featuring Paul Millsap at small forward, did not have the desired effect, as the Jazz (1-3) were outrebounded 51-42.
A team that entered the season with high hopes to improve on last year's first-round playoff exit, and thumped Dallas 113-94 in its season opener, continued to look pedestrian.
"Maybe it's what we needed," said Gordon Hayward, who led the Jazz with 19 points. "After that first win I think we were maybe a little bit too high on ourselves. This knocked us down a little bit, but we've got to use this as a steppingstone."
Perhaps the most troubling thing for the Jazz is that there will be no respite from good opponents or road games. The Jazz face the Lakers on Wednesday at EnergySolutions Arena, and eight of the remaining 13 games in November are on the road.
"We want to become a better on-the-road team," Mo Williams said. "The only way to do it is to get in that fire and find your way out. I thought we made strides today; I just thought we played a hungrier team at home."
The Jazz tied the game at 61-61 on a basket by Al Jefferson, but the Grizzlies went on a 13-6 run in the third quarter, and it carried over into the fourth.
The Jazz had the ball, trailing by seven with 2:54 remaining, but Jefferson lost the ball to Zach Randolph, and Mike Conley made a 3-pointer to extend the Grizzlies' lead to 99-89. The Jazz trailed by as many as 14 before scoring late points to narrow the margin of defeat.
After playing Burks and Jeremy Evans, who played a combined four minutes in the first three games, in the second quarter, Jazz coach Tyrone Corbin tightened his rotation to eight players. Out for the night were regulars DeMarre Carroll and Jamaal Tinsley.
"Today I thought we needed to stay with the group a little longer," Corbin said. "And we need a win. Not that I don't have confidence in the other guys, I just thought that group of guys would give us a chance to get over the hump."
Burks had been the biggest casualty of the Jazz's depth, and he struggled in the six minutes he was given in the second quarter. Corbin said he thought the Jazz could benefit from Evans' and Burks' size against Memphis' second team, but conceded that "it may not have been the best thing to have that whole group in there at the same time."
But Corbin is at the point where the options for his team are endless, and the time to choose the right ones is not. Of course, the Jazz quickly could change the narrative of their young season Wednesday with a win against the star-studded but struggling Lakers.
But Monday in Memphis, the theme was missed opportunity.
"We talked about getting better on the road," Corbin said, "then we come out and lose the first three on the road. It don't feel good and it shouldn't. We don't want it to feel good. We feel like somebody took something away from us."
Storylines Utah spins wheels away from home
R The Jazz lose their third straight road game to open the season.
• Gordon Hayward leads the Jazz in scoring for the first time, finishing with 19 points.
• Six Jazz players reach double figures, but forward Marvin Williams struggles, finishing with 6 points.