MEMPHIS (ABC4 Sports) – The effort and fight is there for the Utah Jazz, even though the victories are not.
Ja Morant recorded his fourth career triple-double with 30 points, 10 rebounds and 10 assists, as the Memphis Grizzlies held off the shorthanded Jazz Friday night, 119-109.
Donovan Mitchell missed his sixth straight game in concussion protocol, while Rudy Gobert sat out his third straight with a calf injury.
Brandon Clarke added 22 points for Memphis, while Jaren Jackson Jr. finished with 18 points and matched his season high with six blocks. Desmond Bane added 17 for the Grizzlies.
Danuel House Jr., who just signed his second 10-day contract, led the Jazz with 21 points, while Mike Conley finished with 15 points and six assists.
Jazz head coach Quin Snyder was disappointed with the loss, but proud of his team’s effort.
“We were scrambling and playing hard,” Snyder said. “It wasn’t perfect, but we were scrapping for rebounds. If you play hard, good things will happen. You’re not going to go in the locker room and see a bunch of smiles, but you’ll probably see some guys that can feel good at least about the way they’re competing.”
Bojan Bogdanovic and Jordan Clarkson had 13 points each for Utah, which lost its fourth straight and 10th of 12. But with its two best players playing against the top three teams in the Western Conference (Phoenix, Golden State and Memphis), the Jazz believe they are close to getting back to where they were.
“Especially in the last week or so, we’re playing with a much more urgent mindset and playing harder,” Conley said. “Guys are giving everything they’ve got with who we have out there, and at some point we’re going to break though. No moral victories, but we feel like we’re getting closer and closer to being back.”
It was the highest-scoring triple-double in franchise history and the fourth overall for Morant, Memphis’ third-year point guard who was named an All-Star starter on Thursday. He scored at least 30 points for the fifth consecutive game.
“I think the win was more important, but I guess the triple-double was needed to get the win,” Morant said. “All in all, it was a good night.”
The Grizzlies maintained their hold on third place in the Western Conference, moving 3 1/2 games in front of the fourth-place Jazz.
Memphis led by as many as 14 points before its advantage began evaporating midway through the fourth quarter. The Jazz moved within 105-101 when Royce O’Neale connected on a 3-pointer with 4:40 left.
But Utah got no closer as Memphis built its lead back to double digits.
“We competed our tails off,” Snyder said. “There was a lot of size on the floor, and we didn’t have a lot of it. We battled. We’re right there. And that was after being down double digits at various times. These guys are leaving it out there, and that’s what we want to do.”
The Grizzlies dominated points in the paint, outscoring the Jazz, 66-34. Utah made 17 three-pointers, but committed 16 turnovers.
O’Neale finished with 12 points, while Eric Paschall added 10 points off the bench for Utah.
The Jazz (30-20) next play at Minnesota Sunday night at 6:00 p.m.