Donovan Mitchell, Jazz Hold off Ja Morant, Grizzlies 121-111 to Win Game 3May 30, 2021
Donovan Mitchell scored 29 points and Mike Conley added 27 more as the Utah Jazz took a 2-1 lead in their best-of-seven Western Conference first-round playoff series against the Memphis Grizzlies by defeating the hosts 121-111 on Saturday at FedExForum.
The Jazz led by double digits after the first, second and third quarters, but Memphis began the fourth on a 13-2 run to tie the game at 98.
Memphis grabbed a 109-107 lead on a Morant bucket, but Mitchell scored 10 points during a 14-2 Utah run to end the game.
Conley hit seven three-pointers and also dished a team-high eight assists. Rudy Gobert pitched in a 15-point, 14-rebound double-double alongside four blocks.
Morant (28 points, seven assists) and Dillon Brooks (27 points) paced the Grizzlies' offense. Jonas Valanciunas (10 points, 13 rebounds) and Kyle Anderson (11 points, 13 rebounds) added double-doubles.
Utah is now two wins away from reaching the Western Conference semifinals for the third time in five years.
Jazz G Donovan Mitchell: 29 points, five assists
Jazz G Mike Conley Jr.: 27 points, eight assists, six rebounds
Jazz C Rudy Gobert: 15 points, 14 rebounds, four blocks
Jazz F Bojan Bogdanovic: 15 points, six rebounds
Jazz G Jordan Clarkson: 15 points
Grizzlies PG Ja Morant: 28 points, seven assists
Grizzlies F Kyle Anderson: 11 points, 13 rebounds, five assists, two steals
Grizzlies C Jonas Valanciunas: 10 points, 13 rebounds, five assists
Grizzlies SG Dillon Brooks: 27 points
Grizzlies SG Grayson Allen: 17 points
Conley, Mitchell Lift Jazz
Utah led by 12 points after the first quarter and 11 points following the second and third, but the resilient Grizzlies hung around and tied the game at 98 thanks to six Brooks points, a Kyle Anderson tip-in and five Grayson Allen points (both buckets off Anderson assists).
The Jazz needed to dig deep to rally against a tough, gritty Grizzlies team that had the backing of a loud and vibrant home crowd. Thanks to Conley and Mitchell, they were able to pull through.
Conley drilled a clutch three-pointer, his seventh of the game, for a 103-100 lead:
After Morant answered Conley with a three of his own, the Jazz point guard fired back with a 10-foot floater.
Four straight Grizzlies points gave Memphis the 107-105 lead, but Conley then found Gobert for an alley-oop dunk and a 107-all tie.
Conley was the best and most consistent Utah player on the floor, and Sarah Todd of the Deseret News pointed out his importance as the point guard dominated the opposition:
And Sam Vecenie of The Athletic shouted him out too:
Morant answered yet again after the Conley dish to the big man, but it was Spida Time from that moment forward.
Conley's assist to Mitchell for an and-one finger-roll layup that gave Utah a 110-109 edge was essentially a passing of the hero torch.
From that point on, it was all Mitchell as he destroyed the Memphis defense and led the Jazz to the 10-point win.
Mitchell soon hit the biggest bucket of the game courtesy of a three-pointer over Anderson for the 113-109 advantage:
Tony Jones of The Athletic had this enlightening comment as Mitchell was doing work:
After Conley found Gobert for another bucket, Mitchell went back at it, drawing a pair of fouls and hitting 4-of-5 free throws.
That salted the game away for the Jazz as it withstood a furious fight from the Grizzlies, which have had a reputation over the years for being a tough, blue-collar team that's hard to put away.
Conley, who played in Memphis for the first 12 years of his career, was a fixture on some of those teams. In the end, his own grit and grind—coupled with Mitchell's bucket-making—put Utah in the series lead.
Resilient Grizzlies Fight Until the End, But Early Hole Too Much To Overcome
Memphis never let Utah run away with this game even though it looked like the Jazz's three-point barrage could do just that.
The fact that the Grizzlies took the lead multiple times in the fourth quarter showcases this team's heart and perseverance in the face of adversity.
They clearly take after the relentlessness of their star point guard in Morant, who is well on his way to being an All-NBA player and postseason fixture for years. He's already put himself in great company:
The end of the fourth quarter did not go their way as Mitchell simply took over while Memphis went cold from the field, but the issue Saturday was deeper than that, as Evan Barnes of the Memphis Commercial Appeal tweeted and Grizzlies head coach Taylor Jenkins mentioned after the game:
Utah won this game despite getting outscoring Memphis in just one quarter. The problem for the Grizzlies, though, was that one quarter ended with the Jazz up 34-22 after 12 minutes.
Cassie Carlson of WMC Action News 5 relayed another problem that Jenkins mentioned:
The defense clearly did not fare well in those 12 minutes, as seven Jazz three-pointers proved to be the difference in Utah giving itself some breathing room. Royce O'Neale hit three of them.
Utah ultimately went 19-of-43 from three, and Memphis shot 13-of-41. As Barnes noted, it's not hard to see why the Grizzlies lost. They simply couldn't match Utah's firepower from deep, as most evidenced by a fantastic first quarter.
Memphis will host Utah for Game 4 on Monday at 9:30 p.m. ET.