SALT LAKE CITY — In Utah’s first two games of the season, Jazz coach Quin Snyder was unhappy with his team’s defense, which gave up an average of 120 points on 53 percent shooting.
He was happier with his team's defensive effort Monday night against Memphis as the Jazz held the Grizzlies to only 92 points and just 37 percent shooting.
The only problem was, the Jazz offense failed to show up as Utah fell to 1-2 on the season with a disappointing 92-84 loss to a Grizzlies team that is picked to finish near the bottom of the Western Conference standings.
The Jazz couldn’t have played much worse offensively than they did Monday night at Vivint Arena. Not only did they shoot a dismal 35.4 percent from the field, but they also shot just 25 percent from the 3-point line, where they seem to be trying to make a living this season. For the game, they had just 18 assists, well below last year's season average, and they also had 15 turnovers, more than last year’s average.
“We obviously didn’t play well, particularly on the offensive end,” Snyder said. “The substance of this team is the fact that we move the ball and work together to get good shots and we didn’t do that tonight. We got some good looks but we didn’t move the ball like we need to and make the extra pass. We can’t play that way.”
Generally, the Jazz can count on good games from several players, but aside from Jae Crowder and rookie Grayson Allen, who both provided a spark off the bench, no one played well.
Joe Ingles, who had shot 70.4 percent in the first two games, only made 4 of his 13 attempts and was 1 for 7 from 3-point range. Donovan Mitchell was also 1 of 7 from long range and just 6 for 17 overall, while committing a team-high six turnovers. Ricky Rubio, who had made just 5 of his first 16 shots of the season, was even worse Monday in going 1 for 8. Rudy Gobert finished with 12 rebounds and 11 points, but eight of his points came in the final five minutes. Derrick Favors shot 3 for 11.
Crowder ended up as Utah’s leading scorer with 15 points on 4-of-7 shooting and also had eight rebounds. Allen saw his first action of the regular season, entering the game late in the third quarter and finishing with seven points, including a 3-pointer in 10 minutes on the floor.
Mike Conley, who played in only 12 games last year due to a left Achilles injury, led Memphis with 23 points. Although he was just 6 of 20 from the field, he hit some key shots down the stretch and made 10 of 11 from the free-throw line.
Marc Gasol, who’s been battling back soreness this season, had a double-double with 18 points and 13 rebounds, while former Jazzman Shelvin Mack scored 12 points off the bench.
Coming off their heartbreaking loss to the Warriors Friday, the Jazz were sluggish from the start. They led 22-19 after one quarter, but after falling behind by six in the second quarter, they pulled within one at halftime at 47-46. The Jazz had scored 47 in the second quarter alone Friday, but couldn’t even match that in Monday’s first half.
Utah never led in the second half as the Grizzlies extended the lead to seven by the end of the third quarter and to as much as 16 with 3:50 left at 86-70. At that point, many in the sold-out crowd were fleeing to the exits when the Jazz made their most spirited rally of the night.
First Crowder sank a pair of free throws after driving the lane and then he sank a 3-pointer from out front. Gobert made a dunk and then Allen drove the lane for a ferocious dunk. When Gobert made a three-point play with 50 seconds left, the Jazz cut the lead to six at 88-82 but then they simply ran out of time.
“We haven’t been able to put a full game together yet,” said Mitchell. “It’s only game three, but there is no excuse. We have to go out there and compete.”
The Jazz will head out on the road for a four-game, eight-day road trip beginning Wednesday night in Houston. Their next home game will be Friday, Nov. 2 against the same Memphis Grizzlies.
Perhaps by then, they can play some offense and defense in the same game.