SALT LAKE CITY – – The Memphis Grizzlies haven’t completely relegated their grit-and-grind days to the past.
The eighth-seeded Grizzlies beat seeded Utah 112-109 in the opening game of their first-round playoff series on Sunday night relying on fierce physical defense to keep the Jazz in. imbalance in attack much of the game.
Game 2 of the series will take place on Wednesday.
Utah never found a pace from the perimeter, shooting just 12 of 47 from long range. Defensively, the Jazz couldn’t stop Dillon Brooks for long stretches.
Brooks had 31 points and seven rebounds to lead the Grizzlies. He set a single-game franchise point record for a Memphis player making his playoff debut, surpassing Marc Gasol’s 24 points against San Antonio on April 17, 2011.
“He brings a lot of energy to the ground,” said goalkeeper Ja Morant. “As soon as we get here in the locker room he’s already active and loud and carries him on the floor for us during the game. We just keep playing with him. I think everyone on this team gets a lot of energy from him, just seeing how active he is on the pitch.
Morant added 26 points. Jonas Valanciunas scored 15 points and 12 rebounds, and Kyle Anderson added 14 points.
Bojan Bogdanovic scored 20 of his 29 points in the fourth quarter to lead the Jazz. Mike Conley had 22 points, 11 assists and six rebounds. Rudy Gobert added 15 rebounds and 11 points, and Derrick Favors finished with 12 points and 11 rebounds.
Bogdanovic had five free throws in the last minute to help Utah reduce Memphis’ lead to 110-109 with 6.4 seconds left. Brooks laid up at the other end and Bogdanovic missed a 3-point try with 1.9 seconds left, which would have forced overtime.
Ultimately, the Jazz never fully recovered from playing long stretches of slow attack and passive defense.
“We had a few moments where we were distracted, disconnected,” Gobert said. “Every time they score they talk, and we know that’s how they like to play, so we can’t let that affect us.”
Utah reduced a double-digit deficit to 60-59 following a layup from Bogdanovic. Then Brooks took over. He scored 14 points on 7 of 10 shots in the third quarter. Brooks capped his scoring streak with back-to-back baskets that extended the Grizzlies lead to 78-68.
Memphis led by 17 points in the fourth quarter, taking a 94-77 lead over a Tyus Jones jumper, before the Jazz rallied behind.
“He’s our spiritual leader,” Grizzlies coach Taylor Jenkins said of Brooks’ performance. “His intensity permeates the entire team.”
Utah experienced an attacking drought for much of the first quarter. The Jazz managed just one basket over a seven-minute period while committing six turnovers. The Jazz made eight total sales during the quarter.
“Whether it was the offensive rebounds or the turnovers, they just had a lot more possessions than us and it’s tough to get over,” Utah coach Quin Snyder said. “I was happy that we fought and came back in the game at the end. But I think we all know we need to play better. And we need to perform better.
Memphis took the lead 17-14 on a three-point play from Dillon Brooks, but couldn’t gain more ground against the Jazz’s defense.
The Grizzlies missed 14 straight shots in a seven-minute span spanning the first and second quarters. That opened the door for Utah’s 15-0 run, highlighted by back-to-back baskets from Gobert for a 29-17 lead.
Memphis responded with a 31-7 run, starting late in the second quarter, and took the lead 53-43 early in the third. Brooks and Morant combined six baskets and 17 points to fuel the push.
“I don’t think they took us lightly,” Anderson said. “They punched. We threw punches. We went out and won the game.
Grizzlies: Anderson had six career-high interceptions, setting a franchise playoff record in one game. … The Grizzlies outclass Utah 62-42 in paint. … Memphis announced on Sunday that it would increase capacity within the FedEx Forum from 40% to 55% for the first round of the NBA Playoffs.
Jazz: Favors tied their season high with four blocks. … Clarkson was 0 of 8 in a 3-point range, breaking a 94-game streak scoring at least a 3-point. … Gobert fouled with 4:25 to go. … Utah did not commit fourth quarter sales.
Donovan Mitchell was late out of the roster as he rehabilitated his sprained right ankle. He has not appeared in a match for the Jazz since April 16.
His latest absence came as a surprise after Mitchell told reporters he was ready to play in Game 1 after the Utah shootout on Sunday morning. His status changed in the afternoon, even taking his own teammates by surprise and mentally throwing them off balance before the game.
“Obviously it’s tough for our team when we’re expecting a guy like that back,” said Conley. “But we’ve played this season with the guys in and out of the roster all year, so that’s no excuse for how we go there and we play every night, but that definitely changes. gives it when you know a guy of his caliber isn’t able to play.
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