SALT LAKE CITY — It all seemed a bit cathartic.
Getting stops, running the court, hitting 3s, getting easy looks at the rim: this is what the Jazz signed up for.
In the second quarter, the Jazz got right — or at least close to it.
After a terrible opening 12 minutes, Utah flipped the switch and went on the type of run that has been mostly absent this season. The Jazz began the quarter on a 25-4 run and really never looked back in a slump-busting 126-112 win over the Memphis Grizzlies on Saturday at Vivint Arena.
The Jazz went into the second quarter down four after having surrendered 36 points to the 26th ranked offensive team. Staring at yet another poor performance, the Jazz responded. Jeff Green drilled a 3. Then Joe Ingles did the same. Donovan Mitchell made a driving layup before Green and Emmanuel Mudiay hit back-to-back triples. And on and on it went.
Utah’s offense came alive allowing the Jazz to run right by the Grizzlies. They may not have been the best shots — Mudiay hit a leaning 3 right before the shot clock and Green hit a pair of deep shots that weren’t that open — but they were going in. And that’s all that mattered on Saturday.
When Green finished an alley-oop from Royce O’Neale six minutes into the quarter, he looked into the crowd with his arms extended almost as if to ask if this is what they had been waiting for.
“I think just having fun with it," Donovan Mitchell said. "I think a lot of us just smiled and are kind of just enjoying it. They got a little bit of a lead, but keeping composed, moving the ball … we didn’t really take care of the ball that well, but (we were) playing free, playing loose and just having fun with it."
The Jazz had 22 turnovers on the night, but that was really the only blemish on what was a stellar offensive night.
It had been nearly two weeks since the Jazz had taken a lead into halftime, and over a week since the Jazz last tasted victory (that just so happened to be against this same Memphis team). The rough stretch got to a point that Ed Davis practically called Saturday’s game a “must-win.”
Yes, a game against the lottery-bound Grizzlies on Dec. 7 was seen with that kind of importance. That’s how bad things had got for the Jazz, who came into Saturday losing five of their six games.
Utah needed this one. It didn’t matter that it was against the lowly Grizzlies playing without their franchise centerpiece rookie point guard Ja Morant, or that the Jazz gave up two 30-plus point quarters against a team that was 26th in offense heading into the game. A win was something to be celebrated.
And it was fun, too.
Despite the defensive shortcomings, the Jazz played more free and loose than they have in some time. They swung the ball around, assisting on 32 of 45 field goals, and mostly resisted the temptation to shoot the midrange floaters that have come in abundance during the losing stretch.
That led to plays like when Ingles got a pass cutting into the paint, but instead of taking the contested look dropped it back to Rudy Gobert, who drove down the lane for a two-handed slam.
Or Mudiay cutting inside, rising as if to take a shot before passing it to an open O’Neale for a 3.
“When we rely on each other and we trust each other, that is how we make plays and how we get stops," Green said. "We have a lot of guys that can score; so if we are on the same page and playing together, we can win a lot of games.”
It was fun offense. And when you shoot 56% from the field, go 19 of 34 from 3-point range, and have seven players reach double figures, that’s usually good enough to make up for an uneven performance on the other end.
Mitchell led the Jazz with 22 points on 9 of 17 shooting, Gobert had 19 points and 11 rebounds, Ingles had 12 points and 10 assists, while Green came off the bench to score 19 and hit on 5 of 6 from deep.
"I think that was a lot more other people overreacting than what we were," Ingles said. "The good thing about it was we knew what we were doing wrong. We weren't sitting here trying to figure it out. We knew what we needed to do."
There are still some things to fix and others to get right, but on this night the Jazz got some relief.