SALT LAKE CITY, Utah – Rain outside Vivint Arena was pretty much the only thing falling in Utah as the Jazz fell to the Memphis Grizzlies 112-109 in one of the team’s worst shooting performances of the season.
Bojan Bogdanovic carried the Jazz who erased a 17-point deficit in the fourth quarter, reducing Memphis’s lead to just one with six seconds left, but missed a three-point draw on final possession of the game.
Dillon Brooks led all scorers with 31 points as the Grizzlies took the field advantage away from the Jazz, becoming the fifth team to win a game in Utah this season.
Jazz Go Cold in the opening of the playoffs
The Jazz had their second worst three-point shooting night of the season, connecting with just 12-47 of their attempts. The 25.5% of their lines barely surpassed their 25% against the Phoenix Suns on April 7, while their 12 marks were tied for their third under of the season.
The Jazz opened the game with back-to-back lines from Joe Ingles and Royce O’Neale in the opening 65 seconds of the game, but missed 13 of their next 14 three-point attempts over the next 20 minutes, allowing the Grizzlies to build . a 49-43 lead at the half.
After limiting Memphis to just 17 points in the first quarter, the Grizzlies scored 32 points in the second quarter to take a lead they wouldn’t give up in the final 24 minutes of the game.
While the starters finished a reasonable 11-32 from the three-point line, Jazz’s second unit only shot 1-15 from deep, including Jordan Clarkson’s 0-8 in the loss.
Despite the bad night on set, coach Quin Snyder wants the team to keep hoisting three.
“They were clean books,” Snyder said of the Georges Niang reserve’s 1-6 three-point exit. “If he stopped firing those shots, I’m mad at him for taking these pictures.”
Mike Conley had two stares on his former team late in the fourth quarter that could have reduced the Grizzlies’ lead even further, but missed both, leading to Ja Morant layups on the other end.
While the Jazz is unlikely to continue shooting so poorly in the playoffs, it is a reminder of how easy it is to lose a game to a lower seed when offense is so dependent on three-point shooting.
Jazz fails to perform for the first three quarters
If the poor shot was not to blame, the Jazz may view their execution in the first three quarters of the game as the cause of their loss.
The Jazz pledged their 14 turnovers in the game’s opening 36 minutes, which saw the Grizzlies score 12 quick break points. Memphis recorded 12 interceptions against the Jazz, which made it easy to shoot live balls the other way and easy baskets in transition.
“We talked about competition and execution,” Snyder said after the game. “I thought we competed, I didn’t think we performed at the level we needed right now in the playoffs.”
Bogdanovic and Clarkson combined for eight turnovers, far too many for a team that relied more on the two guardless shot-creators Donovan Mitchell in the lineup.
The Jazz did not make any sales during the last 12 minutes of the game and came close to securing the victory.
“With 17 we got back into the game just by playing our game and running,” said Rudy Gobert. “There were times when we got distracted, we weren’t connected and we turned the ball around.”
Gobert finished the game with 11 points, 15 rebounds and three blocks, but was eliminated for the first time this season.
Jazz Missed Donovan Mitchell Vs. Grizzlies
While that was a question mark as to how the Jazz would use Mitchell upon his return, it was clear the team had missed having him in the lineup in their loss-to-Memphis game.
Jazz’s turnovers at the hands of Bogdanovic and Clarkson were a reminder of Mitchell’s value, not only as a playmaker, but also for his ability to create plans for himself.
Not only do eight turnovers lead to easy baskets the other way around, they also translate to eight fewer field goal attempts for a Jazz attack that couldn’t find its flow of fire.
“Obviously it’s tough for our team, we’re waiting for the guy to come back,” Conley said of Mitchel’s bizarre late scratch in the lineup. “But we’ve played this season with guys in and out of the roster all year, so that’s no excuse.
Mitchell was cleared to return for the Jazz earlier this week and did not show up on Jazz’s injury report on Saturday night, but late Sunday afternoon the team announced that the coaches of the team were uncomfortable with the condition of the guard’s ankle.
Snyder said Mitchell will be reviewed daily in the future.
Although the Jazz played basketball in the last quarter, it was clear that they had missed their favorite scorer.
While Conley, O’Neale and Bogdanovic missed Jazz’s last three field goal attempts of the game, Memphis was able to repeatedly call Morant’s number late in the game.
Morant scored 10 of his 26 points in the final quarter, all of which came in the 5:31 final of the game. If the Jazz don’t see Mitchell come back to the ground in Game 2, they might have a hard time closing games in his absence.