Dillon Brooks scored 31 and Ja Morant added 26 points to lead the No. 8 seed Memphis Grizzlies to a huge 112-109 road upset win over the No. 1 Utah Jazz in Salt Lake City in the first round of the Western Conference playoffs on Sunday, May 23 (Monday, May 24, Manila time).
The young Grizzlies fell behind by 14 points in the first half, rallied to jump ahead by 15 points early in the fourth quarter and then held on to win on the top-seeded team’s home court just two days after earning a spot in the playoffs. While Utah rested, the Grizzlies had to beat San Antonio and Golden State in the NBA’s new play-in tournament to qualify.
The Jazz were shorthanded after All-Star guard Donovan Mitchell was ruled out of the game in the afternoon. Mitchell, who missed the last month of the regular season, had said Sunday at shootaround that his sprained ankle was feeling better and that he was ready to play.
Former Grizzlies guard Mike Conley played well for the Jazz with 22 points and 11 assists, while Bojan Bogdanovic lit up to score 29 points in the second half to lead Utah.
After finishing with the NBA’s best record at 52-20, however, the Jazz no longer own homecourt advantage in this round.
Rudy Gobert – the favorite to be named Defensive Player of the Year – had 11 points, 15 rebounds and 3 blocks, fouled out with over four minutes remaining, the Jazz made a strong push in the final portion of the game.
They were trailing 97-82 with 8:22 minutes left and, led by Bogdanovic, got within one point at 110-109 after he hit a three-pointer and then was fouled on purpose for two more points on the ensuing possession.
Brooks found his way to the basket after a timeout with four seconds left, putting the Grizzlies up by 3 points. But Bogdanovic’s desperation three-point heave in the final seconds was off.
Jonas Valanciunas had 15 points and 12 rebounds, while Kyle Anderson added 14 points and 6 steals for a Grizzlies squad that is playing in the playoffs for the first time in four years.
Trainers determined that Mitchell wasn’t quite ready to be cleared after evaluating him following the morning shootaround. Mitchell was not included on the Jazz’s injury list ahead of the game.
“Hopefully he’ll be out there soon,” Jazz coach Quin Snyder said in his pregame interview. “They’ll evaluate him day-to-day.” – Rappler.com