Grizzlies continue to battle against West’s best Jazz


Memphis Grizzlies guard Ja Morant (12) drives against Utah Jazz guard Mike Conley in the first half of Game 4 of an NBA basketball first-round playoff series Monday, May 31, 2021, in Memphis, Tenn. (AP Photo/Brandon Dill)

MEMPHIS — On the NBA’s biggest stage, the Memphis Grizzlies have been putting on a show, playing some very good basketball against the NBA’s best team.

Problem is, that team, the Utah Jazz are playing great basketball and that’s why Utah is heading home to Salt Lake City with a chance to close out what’s been a very entertaining series.

The Grizzlies are giving the top seeded Jazz everything they could ask for behind budding star Ja Morant, who again, couldn’t be contained in Game Four.

Morant and the Grizzlies wiping out what was a 13-point Utah lead to open the fourth quarter.

Morant finishing with 23 points and 12 assists.  Dillon Brooks and Jaren Jackson Jr.with 21 apiece.  Then the catalyst in the fourth quarter, seldom used De’anthony Melton scored all 15 of his points in the final twelve minutes as four different times in the fourth, the Grizz got within one possession.

But in what’s become the theme of this series,every time the Grizzlies got close, the Jazz had an answer with former Grizz great Mike Conley saving his best for last.

Game four following the same script as game three. Utah closing strong putting the Grizzlies down three games to one and on the brink of elimination.

“It’s nothing to be frustrated about when we’re giving great fight against the best team in the NBA.  They just have a response to everything,” saif Grizzlies coach Taylor Jenkins.  “We’re giving it everything we’ve got.  We’re competing at the highest level.  I wouldn’t say it’s frustration.  It’s actually encouraging that, with the group that we have against the group that they have, and we’re going toe to toe.  It’s phenomenal to watch.  You’re never going to play a perfect game.  You gotta play a perfect game against this team and we are so close.”>

“We all stay positive, no matter what’s going on,” Morant said.  “We just can’t let one game carry over to the next.  We can’t be frustrated and go into the next game frustrated.  You just have to have all the confidence in the world, be positive.  We worked to get here.”

“Like everyone saw, we’re right there.  We got a lot of fight in this team.  Their the number one seed and they’re not going to back down so we just have to continue to fight,” Melton said.   “Going back to Utah, we’ve already stole on in Utah.  We just have to keep the same mindset.  Just keep pushing along and keep fighting no matter what.”

And maybe Morant and the Grizzlies have the Jazz, exactly where they want them.

While it is rare that a team rallies back from being down three games to one.

As a matter of fact, it has only happened 13 times…in NBA history.

One of those times came last year, down in the bubble, when Utah blew a 3-1 series lead to Denver in this same opening round of the Western Conference playoffs.

Not that the Jazz need to be reminded.

“We obviously remember that, that feeling we had last year.  It’s not something we want to experience again,” said Jazz guard Mike Conley.  “I think this team is different.  I think the circumstances are a little bit different.  I think we have a different team, a different mindset.”

“Having that be so fresh, having that be last year, I think that really helps us understand game four, game five, isn’t guaranteed,” said Jazz guard Donovan Mitchell.  “Just because we’re going home having won two in a row.  This team’s gonna fight.”

Game Five between the Grizzlies and Jazz tips off at 8:30 on Wednesday night.

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