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Utah Jazz Analysis: Crisp execution, tough defense lead Memphis to 100-90 win over Utah

The Memphis Grizzlies had little difficulty taking care of business in defeating the Utah Jazz, 100-90, Wednesday night at EnergySolutions Arena.

Why the Jazz lost: After arriving home from Portland, Oregon, in the early hours of the morning, the Jazz looked a bit rough. They were seemingly a step slow on defense, and that was their downfall versus a sharp, cohesive team like Memphis. It was a rather slow-paced game, something that benefitted the Grizzlies, whose execution is among the NBA’s elite. While Utah put together a few runs, the game’s outcome was never really in doubt.

Turning point: Utah battled fairly well in the first quarter and were within four points when Memphis forward Zach Randolph banked in an improbable half-court heave. Not only did that give the Grizzlies the seven-point lead, but it also gave them the spark they needed. Memphis was consistently good throughout. Every time the Jazz went on a spurt, the Grizzlies countered with a few stellar defensive stops or some deft ball movement.

What it means: First, Memphis is one of the best teams in the league. The Grizzlies are just so good on both ends of the court. They did not have their best outing, and they still won by 10 on the road. Memphis is playing some amazing basketball of late. Second, the fatigue factor was evident. Utah’s schedule has been rather odd, with some extended patches of rest, followed by a rash of games in short periods of time. The Jazz need to adapt. With a roster of young legs, they should be strong in the energy department, if not always in execution.

Grading the performance: The Grizzlies kept several of Utah’s players in check. Gordon Hayward and Derrick Favors were solid, but Memphis' steady stream of defenders helped contain them. Utah got some nice bench production with Trey Burke pacing the team with 21 points. Swingmen Chris Johnson, who made his Jazz debut, and Elijah Millsap were gritty and hustled all night. It is becoming a broken record, but poor free-throw shooting once again plagued the Jazz. Also, the ball was not moving, which is detrimental in a slowly played game.

Utah Jazz grade: C

Much of the attention this season has been rightfully doled out to the dominant Golden State Warriors and the juggernaut Atlanta Hawks. But here comes the Memphis Grizzlies, with their stellar 37-12 record. They are as complete a team as there is — true contenders who can play with anyone. This all was on display versus the Jazz. The combination of crisp passing, excellent shooting and stout defense was difficult for Utah to combat.

Memphis Grizzlies grade: A-

Three telling stats:

— Memphis did a lot of its damage inside, outscoring Utah 46-36 in the paint.

— The Grizzlies handed out 26 assists, while registering only nine turnovers. That 2.89 ratio is quite good for an individual player but is exceptional for a team.

— Four of the five bench players for Memphis sported a +8 or better plus-minus mark. The Grizzlies’ underrated depth will be a major key for them going forward.

Up next: Utah will travel to take on the high-octane Phoenix Suns, led by head coach and former Jazz legend Jeff Hornacek. This continues a busy schedule of four games in five nights.

David Smith provides instant analysis for Deseret News' Utah Jazz coverage. He works for LDS Philanthropies and also writes for Salt City Hoops (ESPN's Jazz affiliate). He can be reached at mechakucha1@gmail.com or on Twitter at davidjsmith1232.