With 16 games remaining and the Jazz on the outside looking in at the playoff picture, they didn’t have time to wait for the NBA-sanctioned postseason against the Grizzlies (44-21).
“They’re positioning themselves for home court,” Foye said. “But this was a playoff game for us.”
The Jazz trailed 50-45 at halftime, but outscored the Grizzlies 24-9 in the third quarter. They built a 13-point lead before Memphis cut it to 71-69 after a 13-2 run of its own. Gradually, the Jazz reconstructed their advantage, going up 87-76 after a 3-pointer by Hayward with 2:58 remaining. However, the Grizzlies got back within three after Jerryd Bayless’s fourth 3-pointer of the game with 1:16 left.
While it would be foolish to think that one win against a Memphis team playing its fourth game in five nights completely closes the book on their worst stretch of the season, beating the Grizzlies certainly turned the page.
“We know that this is what we’re going to have to have the rest of the way,” coach Tyrone Corbin said. “Anything short of that is not satisfactory.”
Five players scored in double figures for the Jazz, including 10 points off the bench from Derrick Favors. Favors had a hand — or a body — in the play of the night, when in the fourth quarter Gasol, the Grizzlies center, lost his shoe on the offensive end. The game didn’t stop, and Gasol held onto his shoe and, as Favors got the ball on the baseline, swung it at Favors.
The Jazz were carried in the fourth quarter by Corbin’s so-called “big” lineup in which Favors plays power forward and pushes Paul Millsap to the “3” spot.
The lineup was often used at the end of last season, but was scrapped early this year and had rarely been seen since.
Bayless led Memphis with 24 points. The Jazz had a chance to cut some of the drama out of the finish, but after Bayless cut the Utah lead to three, Al Jefferson subsequently missed a pair of free throws. But Memphis turned the ball over on its next possession and the Jazz answered with Hayward’s back-breaking 3-pointer.
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