MEMPHIS (ABC4 Sports) – The Utah Jazz finally earned its first victory on the road this season, and bot the NBA In-Season Tournament off to a nice start.
Lauri Markkanen and Jordan Clarkson each scored 26 points and the Utah Jazz held off the Memphis Grizzlies 127-121 on Friday night in the NBA In-Season Tournament.
John Collins added 18 and Ochai Agbaji had 15 to help the Jazz snap a four-game losing streak in their tournament opener. George, the 16th overall pick last summer, started his second consecutive game and had 11 assists.
Desmond Bane led Memphis with 37 points, one short of his career high.
Bismack Biyombo added 15 points and 14 rebounds for Memphis. Jacob Gilyard, a two-way player starting his first game, Luke Kennard and Jaren Jackson Jr. each had 14 points each, with Jackson ejected in the third quarter.
The Grizzlies’ frustration reached the peak in that third quarter. Upset over the officiating, coach Taylor Jenkins drew a technical. Then Jackson was demonstrative about his feelings, drawing two quick technicals and ejection.
By the time everything settled, Utah led 101-80.
And in the postgame, Jenkins was still upset about the officiating. He said Jackson “is one of the most professional players in the league” and should not have been ejected, because, in Jenkins mind, his forward was fouled repeatedly building to Jackson’s reaction.
“He gets a double-technical foul, and the excuse I get is that he is charging an official,” Jenkins said in doubting the officials’ interpretation of what happened. “Our team is competing their (tails) off, and this is what happens? The interaction right now with the officials, complete disrespect.
“I know what’s coming,” he added apparently referring to a potential league fine for his criticism. “It’s unbelievable. …I don’t understand it.”
Even with Jackson in the locker room, the Grizzlies rallied to tie it twice in the fourth, and still trailed only 120-119 with two minutes left but were unable to overtake Utah, which entered the game 0-5 on the road.
“That’s a good experience,” Markkanen said about holding onto the lead down the stretch. “Obviously, it wasn’t pretty. A win’s a win.”
Utah has won three games this season, two of them coming over Memphis. And with the crowd on its feet after Jackson’s ejection and screaming at officials, the atmosphere was tense in the final quarter as Memphis made its run.
“It’s a good learning moment for our young players that when the game gets hectic, especially on the road, and the arena gets hectic, we have to find a way to maintain our composure,” Jazz coach Will Hardy said. “Obviously, at the end of the third quarter, we had five turnover in 3 1/2 minutes, which allowed Memphis to get back in the game. Down the stretch, a lot of guys made some big plays.”
The Jazz next return home to host Portland on Tuesday night.