|5:00 PM PT6:00 PM MT7:00 PM CT8:00 PM ET1:00 GMT9:00 6:00 PM MST8:00 PM EST5:00 UAE (+1)02:0020:00 ET7:00 PM CT23:00 , January 28, 2022
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Ja Morant looks to remain hot as Grizzlies face Jazz
Utah Jazz at Memphis Grizzlies
- Including a matchup in the first round of last year's playoffs, Utah has won 10 of its last 12 games against Memphis. The Grizzlies have won this season's only previous meeting however, 119-118, in November.
- The Jazz are scoring an average of 112.8 points per game on the road while holding opponents to 105.8 points. The point differential of +7.0 in road games would be Utah's best differential on the road in any season in franchise history (current high is +5.3 in 2020-21).
- Jordan Clarkson led the Jazz in scoring while coming off the bench in their most recent loss to the Suns. Since the beginning of last season, Clarkson has 37 games with 20+ points off the bench, while no other player has more than 26 such games (Tyler Herro).
- After a 118-110 win over San Antonio, Memphis is now 33-17 through 50 games. The only other season in franchise history with at least that many wins through 50 games was in 2014-15 (37-13).
- Ja Morant scored 41 points against the Spurs, his third 40-point game this season and fourth in his career. No other player in Grizzlies history has more than two career 40-point performances (Pau Gasol, Mike Miller).
- Donovan Mitchell is questionable to return after missing Utah's last five games. The Jazz average 115.0 points per game when Mitchell plays this season (40 games) compared to 108.2 points in the nine games that Mitchell has missed.
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Memphis is one of the hottest teams in the NBA right now and Ja Morant is the engine powering the Grizzlies' success.
Morant's MVP level play has helped Memphis win 14 of 17 games ahead of Friday's home matchup with the Utah Jazz. He is averaging 36.8 points and 8.5 assists over his last four games.
In his most recent game on Wednesday, Morant equaled his season high with 41 points and dished out eight assists to lead the Grizzlies to a 118-110 road victory over the San Antonio Spurs.
His ability to take over a game was evident in the fourth quarter when Morant totaled 13 points -- including a pair of huge dunks that gave Memphis a double-digit lead.
He helped the Grizzlies outscore the Spurs 62-50 in the paint.
"I don't care who's down there, I'm not afraid to finish against you," Morant said. "My job is to score the basketball when I'm in the paint. If you're in the way, I'm still trying to finish the play."
Morant has shot 50 percent or better from the field six times in January. His efficiency and production has lit a fire under the Memphis offense, which has been held under 100 points just twice since the start of the month. It has kept the Grizzlies going strong, even while Dillon Brooks has been sidelined with an ankle injury.
Stopping Morant will be a major concern for Utah with both Rudy Gobert and Donovan Mitchell sidelined. Mitchell has missed five games with a concussion and Gobert has sat out two straight with a lower calf injury.
The All-Star duo were sidelined during a 105-97 loss to the Phoenix Suns on Wednesday night. The Jazz trailed by 21 points after one quarter when Devin Booker poured out 21 of his game-high 43 points in the first 12 minutes.
Utah rallied and eventually cut the deficit to two points at 96-94 on a dunk from Hassan Whiteside with 2:14 remaining. The rally fell short when the Jazz scored just one basket over the final two minutes.
"We gave a 20-point lead up in the first quarter because we weren't focused on the things we need to focus on to win," Utah coach Quin Snyder said.
Mitchell is expected to return from concussion protocol this weekend. He could play against Memphis on Friday or Minnesota on Saturday. Getting their leading scorer back in action will be a major boost to a floundering Jazz team that is steadily losing ground to other Western Conference contenders.
Utah has lost nine of its last 11 games. The Jazz have sputtered at times on offense with a plethora of turnovers and have struggled to find consistency on defense for long stretches.
Still, Utah players remain optimistic that they are only a few plays away from overcoming the team's current slump.
"We're just trying to find our way regardless of the situation," point guard Mike Conley said. "Regardless of the losses, I think we're heading in the right direction as far as staying connected."
Memphis edged Utah 119-118 in the team's previous meeting this season on Nov. 22. Jaren Jackson, Jr. scored the go-ahead game-winning 3-pointer with 6.7 seconds left.
--Field Level Media
Updated January 28, 2022