It started with a missed 3-pointer by Randy Foye. Then Marvin Williams fired from deep. He, too, was off the mark.
By the time the wreckage of a disastrous third quarter was cleared, only cold, hard realities remained for the Utah Jazz, who blew a 12-point first-half lead to lose 99-86 to Memphis on Saturday at EnergySolutions Arena.
The quarter, in which the Jazz shot just 3 of 20 and were outscored 28-10, was the Jazz’s undoing. It fueled their second home loss of the season in a year in which they have closely followed a script of losing dishearteningly on the road (which they did Friday at Phoenix, 99-84) and reversing course with a dramatic home victory shortly thereafter.
This game more closely followed the narrative of their one other home loss, a Dec. 3 defeat to the Clippers, when the Jazz wilted after building a 14-point lead.
“We can’t always rely on wining on home,” Paul Millsap said. “Sad to say, we can’t rely on that. We have to go on the road and win games.”
The Jazz (13-12) are 4-10 away from EnergySolutions Arena and play their next four on the road, starting Tuesday against Deron Williams and the Brooklyn Nets.
The Grizzlies entered Saturday’s game the losers of three in a row after opening the season with a 14-3 record, including a 103-94 win over the Jazz in Memphis on Nov. 5.
That, in part, was why the Jazz of the first half were so impressive. They were energetic and dynamic: Paul Millsap ran the lane to receive bounce passes from Mo Williams, Gordon Hayward confidently knocked down 3-pointers.
They were balanced, but knew to ride the hot hand.
Al Jefferson scored 10 points in a row at one point in the first quarter, giving the Jazz an 18-15 lead. In the second quarter, Hayward scored seven straight.
In the third, they were ghosts.
The Grizzlies tightened their defense on Al Jefferson, who managed a team-high 21 points despite scoring 14 in the first half. The Grizzlies outscored the Jazz 28-10, turning what appeared to be a morale-boosting victory into a second blowout loss in two nights.
“It wasn’t a great third quarter on our part,” Marvin Williams said. “They were down and they came out and played like they were down. Bottom line. It almost seemed like they wanted the game more than we did.”
After outscoring the Grizzlies 15-2 in transition in the first half, the Grizzlies won that battle 11-5 in the second half.
“Instead of cutting and moving around,” Foye said, “we were just standing around.”
In the end, the Grizzlies won every battle. They outrebounded the Jazz 48-35, outscored them in the paint, 50-35, and used 11 more offensive rebounds to attempt 11 more shots.
Corbin’s message to the team following the game was direct but, for the second-straight night, far from brief. The locker room door remaining firmly latched beyond the 10-minute cooling down period mandated by the NBA.
“[He was] just telling us that we’ve really got to stay in it the whole game,” Corbin said. “We always end up with big leads at half, that third quarter we just lose it, they just go. We’ve got to have a sense of urgency, man.”
The Jazz have blown six halftime leads this season, nearly as many as they’ve managed to hang on to (eight).
“We’ve got to figure out what it takes,” Corbin said. “It’s 48 minutes. We’ve talked about it, we’ve gotten better at it, but the last two games we haven’t shown it.”
In short Grizzlies 99, Jazz 86
R The Jazz lose at home for only the second time this season, falling to 9-2 at EnergySolutions Arena.
• The Jazz play five of their next six games on the road, including a four game East Coast trip that starts Tuesday in Brooklyn.
• Grizzlies’ forward Zach Randolph leads all players with 26 points and 16 rebounds.