Hayward rules from start in Utah Jazz’s win over Memphis
By Bill Oram
The Salt Lake TribuneFirst published Mar 16 2013 10:56PM
The Memphis Grizzlies threw everything they had at the Jazz. Marc Gasol even unleashed his shoe.
But the reeling Jazz didn’t need to answer with a sole; they finally had heart.
In the first game since Tyrone Corbin questioned the effort of his team in a blowout loss in Oklahoma City, the Jazz answered with a revamped lineup and previously unseen perseverance to beat the Grizzlies, 90-84.
"We needed that," Randy Foye said. "No matter how we got it."
Facing the reality of the Jazz (34-32) being knocked completely out of the postseason chase, Corbin tweaked his starting lineup for the second time in 10 days, moving Gordon Hayward from the bench into DeMarre Carroll’s starting spot.
And while all the buzz was about the former lottery pick finally starting, the real story was how he finished.
The Jazz swingman made two 3-pointers in the final 3 minutes, including one with 17.3 seconds remaining to knock the Grizzlies down for good.
Hayward finished with a team-high 17 points and eight rebounds, while playing 38 minutes in front 17,122, the smallest crowd of the season at EnergySolutions Arena.
But as good as it was for Hayward, who made his first start since Nov. 16, it was even better for the Utah Jazz. They moved within half a game of the Los Angeles Lakers for eighth in the Western Conference.
"We know we can do this," Hayward said. "We’ve done it against the best teams in the league at home. It’s when we go on the road; that’s where we’ve got to pick it up and play like this."
The Jazz play three of their next four games on the road, where they are just 10-24. After hosting the Knicks on Monday, they will head to Texas for three games.
The Jazz entered Saturday losers of eight of their last 10 games, and their only wins in the last three weeks had come against sub-.500 teams from the Eastern Conference.
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.