In word, that was the difference Sunday night as the Utah Jazz beat the Memphis Grizzlies, who were disguised as the Memphis Tams, before a national television audience on ESPN.
The score was 98-88, but it felt and looked worse.
“They played real physical,” said Grizzlies guard O.J. Mayo.” They got what they wanted every single time. Pure and simple.”
Typically, the Grizzlies own the paint. Not this time. The Jazz held a 54-40 advantage and burned the Grizzlies with alley-oops time and time again. Jazz forward Gordon Hayward scored a season-high 23 points and had five assists with no turnovers while matched up with Rudy Gay, who finished with 22 points, two assists and five turnovers.
“He’s tough,” Gay said of Hayward, “and a lot of people on this team can learn from that.”
Though Memphis had an 18-13 advantage in offensive rebounds, the team shot 4-of-18 on second-chance opportunities.
“In order to play this game, you have to score,” said Grizzlies coach Lionel Hollins.
The Jazz improved to 14-12 with the victory while the Grizzlies fell to 14-14. The Grizzlies are now 0-2 in the green-and-gold Tams jerseys and just 2-2 on this five-game homestand that concludes Tuesday night at FedExForum against Houston.
Utah’s Al Jefferson scored 21 points with a season-high 15 rebounds. It was his 10th double-double.
Grizzlies point guard Mike Conley had 17 points and six assists. He has led the team in assists for 24 straight games, the longest streak by an NBA player this season.
The Jazz defeated the Grizzlies in Memphis for the first time since Jan. 16, 2009, ending a three-game losing streak here.