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Unnecessary whistle dooms Jazz, but it wasn't the only thing in loss to Memphis

Estimated read time: 4-5 minutes

SALT LAKE CITY — Jaren Jackson, Jr. may never have had a better sequence.

He won a pivotal jump ball from Rudy Gobert with 12.4 seconds left in the game and then hit a game-winning 3-pointer. That's how Memphis shocked the Utah Jazz and came back from 6 points down with a little over a minute remaining to steal a 119-118 victory Monday at Vivint Arena.

One by one, the Jazz came to the postgame media session in hushed voices: This one hurt. Bojan Bogdanovic's fourth quarter heroics — four 3-pointers and 12 points — appeared to be enough for the Jazz to finally pull away from the young Grizzlies.

Bogdanovic's final shot was a sidestep, fadeaway deep corner 3 over a perfectly played defense by Brandon Clarke that looked like it would be the backbreaker. When Clarke turned and saw the ball go in with 1:28 left to give Utah a 118-112 lead, he looked deflated.

Looks can be deceiving.

So how did the Jazz cough up the lead?

  • Memphis got three offensive rebounds in the final 90 seconds.
  • Utah lacked offensive execution and settled for long 3s or they'd lose the ball altogether.
  • There was some bad luck on an offensive interference review.
  • Gobert lost the tip to Jackson to set up the final Memphis play.
  • Jackson made his final shot; Donovan Mitchell didn't make his last-second attempt.

Since it was the talk of Jazz fans following the loss, let's begin with the offensive interference call. With 14.8 seconds left in the game, Morant missed a free throw. As the ball was rolling off the rim, Jackson jumped up and tried to tip it in.

The put-back attempt rolled off the rim and was followed by a missed put-back attempt by Morant before finally settling into Royce O'Neale's hands. It seemed like it was Utah's possession with a 2-point lead, right? Nope. The rebound didn't officially happen.

The refs called Jackson for basket interference, which obviously would have benefited Utah, but on review deemed that the ball didn't have a chance to score and was coming off the cylinder. That meant the Jazz went from having secured a rebound to a jump ball at center court.

"I don't want to put the game on that, but it didn't help," Gobert said before admitting that: "I could have won the jump ball. That would have won the game, too."

It was bad luck — simple as that.

The refs appeared to do everything right in the situation — it looked like basket interference live, so they blew the whistle. They went to the monitors, decided it wasn't, and by rule that meant a jump ball.

"There are certain things that we can control," Snyder said. "Those are the things that as much as anything we focus on."

The offensive interference contributed to the loss, no doubt, but it was far from the only thing. The loss to the Grizzlies followed the same script for many of Utah's other defeats this season: The Jazz were awful in transition defense, they allowed 16 offensive rebounds and had questionable decision making late.

"It's not just one player and we can take him out and we can blame him, it's our whole group that is not doing the great job on transition defense and defensive glass," Bogdanovic said.

New game, same old problems.

"We are up 6 with a minute left, and we have three possessions where we don't execute on offense, and three possessions in a row we give up offensive rebounds," Gobert said. "Just too many mistakes for a team that has the kind of experience that's not acceptable."

The officials may have blown an unnecessary whistle at the end, but the Jazz's best players had their own killer mistakes, too.

In the final minute, Gobert fouled Morant, lost a jump ball and then lost track of Jackson on his game-winning shot. Gobert was deep into the paint to stop Morant from getting to the basket, which left Jackson wide open.

Mitchell also had an awful turnover with 17 seconds left where he dribbled the ball off his foot as he tried to beat Jackson in isolation. The play summed up Utah's final few possessions: lots of dribbling and then forcing up bad shots. Mitchell's final fadeaway jumper that would have won the game is included in that.

"They made plays; we didn't," Mike Conley said. "That's what it comes down to in a game like this."


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