Gasol scores 22 as Grizzlies beat Jazz 89-88
SALT LAKE CITY (AP) — The Memphis Grizzlies were in position for a big road win, and then they were looking at overtime. They were relieved when it was all over.
Marc Gasol had 22 points, seven rebounds and six assists, and the Grizzlies held on for a dramatic 89-88 victory over the Utah Jazz on Friday night that strengthened their playoff positioning.
Memphis used a 16-4 run to carry a three-point lead into the final moments. Utah’s Gordon Hayward had a look at a potential tying 3 from the left corner, but Gasol blocked it out of bounds.
Then the whistle blew with .01 seconds remaining.
Hayward was sent to the line for three free throws and the chance to force overtime. He buried the first two and missed the last one.
“It’s good to get out of here,” Memphis coach Dave Joerger said. ”″I thought we just walked around for two and half quarters and then we got like, ‘Oh my gosh, we could lose tonight.’”
The Grizzlies put together a strong closing charge, but had to wait out those anxious moments at the end. Gasol said the block was clean.
“These last four for us are important,” Grizzlies forward Zach Randolph said. “We are getting (playoff ready). We just have got to keep playing and focus on ourselves and focus on playing better.”
Memphis (54-26) moved a game ahead of Houston in the race to win the Southwest Division and the No. 2 seed in the Western Conference playoffs. The Rockets (53-27) lost 104-103 to the San Antonio Spurs on Friday night.
Beno Udrih started for the injured Mike Conley and had 20 points for Memphis on 9-for-13 shooting. Randolph added 14 points and 10 rebounds.
“It was a big learning experience for us,” Jazz forward Derrick Favors said. “Hopefully next year we can be in the same position — in the playoffs.
“I think we’re past that stage now (of moral victories).”
Hayward scored 27 points for Utah, and Rodney Hood continued his hot streak with 18. Rudy Gobert had his 22nd double-double of the season with 14 points, 14 rebounds and three blocks.
“Of course there’s pressure,” Hayward said. “It’s to tie the game, send it to overtime. I just missed it.
“You take away the experience of it. This is a playoff team and they know how to win games. It teaches us a lesson for sure.”
Grizzlies: Conley (foot sprain) and Tony Allen (hamstring strain) did not play. ... The Grizzlies were tied at halftime despite shooting 52.6 percent from the field and having three fewer turnovers. ... The teams split the four-game series.
Jazz: Reserves Bryce Cotton, Jack Cooley, Elijah Millsap and Jeremy Evans all saw early action throughout the first half. Cotton scored a career-high 11 points. ... Trey Burke did not play due to a sore back.
CUT FROM THE SAME CLOTH
The Jazz have been compared to the Grizzlies due to their sizable frontcourt with a pair of traditional bigs and an overall defensive mindset. Jazz coach Quin Snyder doesn’t mind the comparison, but knows his team has a long way to go to earn the comparison.
“I really respect what they’ve done ... and the toughness that their team has,” Snyder said. “There’s a maturity that they have, obviously. Age-wise, we’re a lot of years behind them. ... But the way that they’ve developed as a team, with an identity, first a defensive identity, a toughness.
“We’re not exactly the same, but I think some of the size that we have — I’d like to see us evolve into them. That would be pretty good.”
“The game was about the last five minutes,” Snyder said. “Our transition defense, loose balls and offensive re bounds. We just gave them extra possessions. It was that simple.”
Grizzlies: At Los Angeles Clippers on Saturday.
Jazz: At Portland Trail Blazers on Saturday.