With first-round draft pick Grayson Allen sitting out Tuesday evening, the Utah Jazz got off to a painfully rough start to their summer-league game against the Memphis Grizzlies at Vivint Smart Home Arena that saw them fall into a 26-point first-half hole.
After a halftime discussion in the locker room got the Jazz refocused, Utah went on a furious second-half rally, led by four players who were teammates with the G-League’s Salt Lake City Stars last season. Guard Naz Mitrou-Long had a team-high 19 points and eight assists, forward Georges Niang (18 points, 10 rebounds) and center Tony Bradley (18 points, 14 rebounds) each had double-doubles and reserve forward Diamond Stone added 10 points off the bench as the Jazz came all the way back to take the lead with 2:28 left in the game. However, Memphis regained momentum with a quick 8-2 run en route to a 95-92 win that dropped the Jazz to 1-1 in summer-league play.
“I couldn’t have been prouder of our whole effort the second half,” Jazz summer-league coach Mike Wells said. “I thought everybody battled — everybody was right there. We made the whole second half kind of Jazz basketball, where you can kind of chop the game up a little bit more, set your defense and get a little more physical. I liked our energy, I liked our toughness and I liked the way our guys came back and competed.”
The Jazz found themselves behind thanks in large part to a lackadaisical defensive effort in the first half. Memphis (2-0) shot 24-of-43 (55.8 percent) in the first half and didn’t commit a single turnover, moving the ball with ease against Utah. Meanwhile, the Jazz shot 16-of-39 (41 percent) from the field, including 2-of-11 from 3-point range, as the Grizzlies led 59-40 after the first 20 minutes.
“Ultimately, Coach Wells was just saying ‘defense,’” Mitrou-Long said. “We were going to be able to get any shot we want, but it was just an emphasis on defense. That’s Utah Jazz basketball from top to bottom — that’s what they preach, and that’s what Coach Wells was trying to emphasize.”
Utah, which closed the first half on a 9-2 run to chew into a 26-point second-quarter deficit, found itself trailing by just nine points after a pair of Stone free throws with 4:14 left in the third quarter. Later in the quarter, Niang knocked down a 3-pointer to keep the Jazz within striking distance.
It appeared the Grizzlies had the game in control after a dunk by Deyonta Davis gave Memphis an 85-71 lead with 7:42 left. But that’s when the Jazz put their comeback effort into overdrive. Matt Mobley’s 3-pointer sparked a 15-0 run by Utah that saw them take an 86-85 lead on Kendrick Ray’s pull-up jumper from 20 feet out.
In the end, however, the Grizzlies had just enough to pull out the victory. Wayne Selden and Kobi Simmons led Memphis with 20 points each, while Davis had 17 and first-round draft pick Jaren Jackson Jr. had 10 points.
The Jazz wrapped up their annual summer league with a game against the Atlanta Hawks on Thursday night. Memphis faced San Antonio on Thursday’s first game.
Spurs 103, Hawks 81
Derrick White had 21 points, six rebounds and nine assists to lead five San Antonio players in double-figures as the Spurs routed Atlanta on Tuesday evening.
Jeff Ledbetter and Jaron Blossomgame each had 16 points for the Spurs (1-1). Chimezie Metu had 13 and Raphael Putney added 10.
John Collins led Atlanta (0-2) with 19 points. Tyler Dorsey had 14, first-round pick Trae Young had 12 and Omari Spellman scored 10 for the Hawks, who shot 31-for-90 (34.4 percent) from the field and 7-for-33 (21.2 percent) from 3-point range.