NBA playoffs

Jazz rout Grizzlies, clinch first West semis berth

Reuters
Jazz rout Grizzlies, clinch first West semis berth

SIZZLING. Jazz spark plug Jordan Clarkson shoots over Grizzlies guard De'Anthony Melton on another hot-shooting night for Utah.

Chris Nicoll/USA TODAY Sports/Reuters

The top-ranked Jazz eliminate the Grizzlies in five games to become the first team to advance to the Western Conference semifinals

Donovan Mitchell amassed 30 points and 10 assists to lead the Utah Jazz to a first-round-clinching 126-110 Game 5 victory over the Memphis Grizzlies in Salt Lake City on Wednesday night, June 2 (Thursday, June 3, Manila time). 

Sixth Man of the Year winner Jordan Clarkson added 24 points and Rudy Gobert totaled 23 points with 15 rebounds and 3 blocks for Utah.

The Jazz, who led by as many as 35 points, earned their fourth consecutive win to eliminate the Grizzlies and become the first team in the Western Conference to advance to the semifinals.

Utah, which finished with the best record in the NBA, now awaits the winner of the Los Angeles Clippers-Dallas Mavericks series.

Ja Morant tallied 27 points with 11 assists while Dillon Brooks also scored 27 for the Grizzlies, who were in the playoffs for the first time in four years. Memphis had to win two games in the play-in – over San Antonio and Golden State – to qualify for the playoffs.

The Grizz gave the Jazz a scare by winning the first game in Salt Lake City, but everything changed in Game 2 when Mitchell returned.

Utah opened this game like its players were on a mission to not repeat what happened in the first round last year when the Jazz took a 3-1 lead over Denver only to lose the series after dropping three straight.

Utah went ahead by double digits for good at 18-7 less than four minutes into the game when Bojan Bogdanovic made a layup after a Mitchell three-pointer.

Remarkably, the Jazz scored 30 points in the first six minutes of the game and finished the first quarter with a 47-27 lead. Utah shot 69.2% from the field and 60% from three-point range in the first.

Memphis showed signs of life early in the second quarter, opening on a 7-2 run to pull within 15. But, as they’ve done the past four games, the Jazz responded. 

Utah went on a 7-0 run, sparked by four points from Gobert, and cruised to a 75-51 halftime lead.

Mitchell capped his 26-point first half with a buzzer-beating three-pointer.

The Jazz built their lead to 35 points in the third quarter at 91-56 after a Clarkson three, and they took a 106-76 advantage into the fourth quarter. That was the third time in this series – and just the fourth time in franchise history – in which Utah scored at least 100 points in the first three quarters, according to the Jazz broadcast.

Royce O’Neale and Bogdanovic each finished with 17 points for Utah.

The only thing that went wrong for the Jazz on this night – when they shot 51.6% overall and hit 17-of-44 threes – was that All-Star point guard Mike Conley left in the second quarter with a sore left hamstring. That’s the same injury that kept him sidelined for nine games at the end of the regular season. – Rappler.com