MEMPHIS — The people that had to work on the Friday following Thanksgiving may have been a little sympathetic to how the Jazz started things off in Memphis.
They looked lethargic, a little disinterested and maybe were still in the process of recovering from Thursday’s big meal day. That’s something everyone can relate to.
Good thing for Utah, they woke up in time to turn things around.
The Jazz (12-7) outscored the Grizzlies (5-13) by 24 points in the second half to erase a 15-point deficit and beat Memphis 103-94 at FedExForum on Friday, helping everyone forget about a first half that was, well, forgettable.
Utah just 31.1%, trailed 55-40 and looked to be on the verge of a bad loss.
“We gotta give them credit,” said Rudy Gobert who had 13 points and 12 rebounds. “They were very physical, they were clogging the paint, it was hard for us to get anything in the paint. We got a few open shots. A lot of times, we kicked it out and we missed the shots.”
But other times, the Jazz passed up open shots, leading to worse ones, and that hurt Utah on more than just the offensive end.
“The fact that we missed shots affected our defense and that’s the thing that should never happen,” Gobert said.
At halftime, Quin Snyder showed some game clips demonstrating what the Jazz should be doing. And then sent his team out with a message: You are better than what you showed — now go out and play like it.
The Jazz did just that.
Utah started taking better shots (i.e. the open ones), got some energy on the defensive end and the game flipped.
The Jazz scored the first 12 points out of the break to help open the quarter on a 24-4 run.
“We just came out competitive, threw ourselves into the defense,” Jazz coach Quin Snyder said. “We were really struggling offensively in the first half and we just forgot about that and started guarding and our offense came too.”
The Jazz started off the half with two consecutive steals and things quickly snowballed from there.
“It was very important cuz a team like Memphis with so many young guys, they get feeling really really good,” said Mike Conley who had 8 points, three assists and five rebounds. “(They get a) couple buckets and go up by 20 instead of us cutting the lead to 10 or 5. … I was proud of the way we kind of shut the water off and got back to doing what we do.”
In the first half, Memphis shot 45.7% from the field. In the second, that dropped to 33.3%. The Grizzlies only scored 39 points after halftime.
The Jazz’s defense reached another level. And their offense did indeed come, too.
Led by Bojan Bogdanovic’s 33 points (26 of which came in the second half), the Jazz scored 63 points after halftime to run right past the Grizzles. The Jazz shot 48% in the second half and hit 8 of 18 from 3-point range.
“We are still trying and embrace our roles,” Bogdanovic said of the first-half struggles. “The second half is an example of how we can play.”
It was a game that probably shouldn’t have required a second-half comeback. The Jazz see themselves as a Western Conference contender and the Grizzlies are rebuilding in every sense of the word having turned things completely over to rookie Ja Morant (he had 11 points and four assists in the loss).
But the Jazz couldn’t match the Grizzlies intensity early — and they needed to get hit a little before they swung back.
“(We had a) chip on our shoulder,” Gobert said of the team’s second-half response. “When we play with a little extra pride — I wouldn’t say nastiness — but we gotta play with a purpose and our purpose is to be the best team in the West.”