Jazz-Grizzlies preview

Consider it a little springtime streaking.

Going into tonight’s matchup at EnergySolutions Arena, the Utah Jazz and Memphis Grizzlies are streaking in different directions.

Memphis lost Friday night in Denver, but the Grizzlies (44-20) still have won eight of their last 10 games, including six in a row before Friday’s 87-80 loss.

Meanwhile, Utah (33-32) has dropped eight of its last 10, including a 23-point blowout loss to Oklahoma City on Wednesday.

In a surprise move, coach Tyrone Corbin plucked Gordon Hayward from his role as sixth man, and put him in the starting lineup along with Paul Millsap, Al Jefferson, Randy Foye and Mo Williams.

The Jazz trail the Lakers by a full game for the Western Conference’s final playoff spot.

“Tonight, it’s a playoff game for us,” point guard Mo Williams said. “We’re gonna approach it (with) playoff intensity. It’s gonna be physical.”

“It’s a must-win game for us,” he added.

The Jazz scored just 28 points in the first half against Oklahoma City and shot a season-low  35 percent.

Memphis is one of the NBA’s best defensive teams, allowing just 89.4 points per game. In their last 11 contests the Grizzlies are allowing even fewer points: 85.8.

Jefferson leads the Jazz in scoring, averaging 17.5 points per game. Millsap averages 15 per contest.

Memphis is led by forward Zach Randolph (15.8) and center Marc Gasol (14.3).

The Jazz have lost to the Grizzlies already twice this season and the two teams will meet again once more, on April 17 in Memphis.

The Grizzlies are the No. 3 team in the Western Conference.

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About Jim Burton

Jim Burton has worked for the Standard-Examiner since 1991. He has covered everything from the preps to Utah, BYU, Weber State and the Ogden Raptors. Currently he is the Standard's Utah Jazz beatwriter and its sports columnist.
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