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Familiar tune as Utah Jazz fall flat in Memphis for fifth loss in a row

Memphis Grizzlies forward Zach Randolph, center, shoots between Utah Jazz forward Chris Johnson, left, center Rudy Gobert (27) and forward Trey Lyles and Grizzlies forward Chris Andersen (7) during the first half of an NBA basketball game Friday, March 4,
Memphis Grizzlies forward Zach Randolph, center, shoots between Utah Jazz forward Chris Johnson, left, center Rudy Gobert (27) and forward Trey Lyles and Grizzlies forward Chris Andersen (7) during the first half of an NBA basketball game Friday, March 4, 2016, in Memphis, Tenn. (AP Photo/Brandon Dill)
Brandon Dill, AP

MEMPHIS — During Friday night’s game, the FedEx Forum P.A. system went on the fritz. For the final minutes of the game, there was no music or sound from the speakers.

The Utah Jazz had their own set of technical difficulties, which ultimately silenced them in the end, too.

The result was a disheartening 94-88 defeat to the Memphis Grizzlies, who somehow keep on clicking without injured standout center Marc Gasol.

“I think everyone is frustrated,” Jazz forward Gordon Hayward said.

For a good reason, too.

The Jazz (28-33) have now lost five straight games — and eight of 10 — while slipping two full games behind No. 8 Houston for the West’s final playoff spot.

“It’s hard,” Jazz coach Quin Snyder said. “Our guys hurt and we’ve got a game tomorrow night.”

For the Jazz, this was a same-song-different-verse kind of night.

Build a big lead.

Blow a big lead.

Fight back.

Fall flat.

Lose.

“It’s very frustrating, especially when we seem to come out pretty strong in these games,” Hayward said. “In another game, we have a double-digit lead and we let it slip away and now we are in a ballgame. On the road, it’s going to be tough against teams so we just can’t have those lapses.”

The same scenario has basically played out in all three of Utah’s losses on this four-game road trip — which mercifully wraps up Saturday night in New Orleans — and against Brooklyn in their last home loss.

The biggest problems happened in the second quarter when the Jazz bench was pulverized by the Grizzlies’ reserves. Utah, which had an early 14-point lead, was outscored 30-11 in that disastrous 12 minutes.

Trey Lyles (nine points) and Trevor Booker (eight points) added some offensive punch, but the Jazz backup wings offered little help. Chris Johnson and Joe Ingles were both scoreless, and the team was outscored by double digits while Trey Burke and Raul Neto were on the court.

In other words, Alec Burks can’t heal soon enough for the Jazz.

Snyder admitted it hurt that Rodney Hood picked up two quick fouls and didn’t play in the second quarter, but that’s not a great excuse for others not performing.

“We have got to be able to play with certain guys out of the game. That can’t be a weakness for us,” Snyder said. “We’ve got to play better. The team needs to raise their level.”

Hayward, who had a team-high 18 points on 7-of-12 shooting, agreed with his coach.

The Jazz’s bench woes were particularly egregious in this game because the Memphis reserves were so good.

Lance Stephenson scored 16 points. Mario Chalmers added 11 points and had a ridiculously good plus/minus rating of +32. Even Old Man Vince Carter got into the action, scoring nine points with a +26.

“It’s really important (the bench). You look at teams that end up winning and they always have good benches,” Hayward said. “Usually our bench is pretty good for us, but for whatever reason tonight we didn’t have it. It’s hard to talk about over and over and over. It’s something we’ve just got to figure out or else we’re going to be looking at going home early.”

At the same time the sound system was malfunctioning, the Jazz also had their issues of untimely turnovers and missed offensive opportunities. It looked like Memphis was going to cruise to a win after the Grizzlies went ahead by eight with 3:23 remaining on a shot-clock-beating trey by power forward Zach Randolph.

“He’s a good player,” Derrick Favors said of Randolph, who led all scorers with 25 points. “He hit a tough shot.”

But Rudy Gobert made five straight from the free-throw line — after missing both on one trip — and the Stifle Tower-led Jazz defense came to life late in the fourth to make a final push.

Utah pulled within two after Gobert split his freebies with 44.2 remaining, but the Jazz were badly outhustled by Memphis power forward Zach Randolph on the next series.

Z-Bo corralled offensive rebounds on back-to-back 3-point misses by Matt Barnes and Carter. He then iced the victory with two free throws to cap that extended possession for a 92-88 lead with 21.1 to go and, after a Shelvin Mack missed floater, hit two more foul shots to clinch it for Memphis.

“We matched their physicality,” said Favors, who didn’t look up while quietly responding to a few questions. “They just hit tough shots.”

Though clearly disappointed, Favors said the Jazz aren't falling apart in the locker room.

"The chemistry is good. Everything is good," he said. "We just have to find a way to win some games."

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