MEMPHIS — His confidence was high. His jumper was on and Jae Crowder made the Memphis Grizzlies pay for sagging off of him at times.
Crowder made the nets in FedExForum play sweet music Friday leading the Jazz to their 10th consecutive road victory, 95-78.
He finished with a game-high 22 points off the bench in 33 minutes as the Jazz also collected their fifth straight win overall. Crowder’s six 3-pointers made were a career-best as well as his 11 3-point shot attempts.
Thursday’s practice at Rhodes College gave him an indication that the Grizzlies would be in for a tough night if they didn’t take him seriously.
“Yesterday,” Crowder said, smiling. “I did a good job of having a good shooting day yesterday and preparing well for these guys. It felt good when I went to bed last night.”
Jazz forward Jae Crowder nailed a career-high six 3-pointers tonight in Memphis to finish with 22 points. He said he knew he was hot after yesterday’s practice. “I felt good when I went to bed last night,” he said. pic.twitter.com/Bph6x4Vu2l— Eric Woodyard (@E_Woodyard) March 10, 2018
Utah has also won 17 of its last 19 games and has now logged the second-longest road win streak in franchise history. The all-time Jazz record is 15 straight on the road from Nov. 27, 1994, to Jan. 26, 1995, but those numbers don’t matter to the squad as they fight for a playoff spot.
“It’s just one game at a time,” said Rudy Gobert, who logged four points, 10 rebounds and two blocks. “I think we’re not worried about being on the road or at home, just trying to win every game. That’s all we do, really.”
Jazz rookie Donovan Mitchell struggled mightily from the field, going 4 for 15, but did hit three 3-pointers to pass Portland’s Damian Lillard as the fastest rookie to hit 150 treys in just 63 games played. Lillard reached the mark in his 68th game.
Mitchell would end with 12 points; six assists, five rebounds, two steals but has plenty to improve upon with five turnovers.
“Donovan’s got to play better,” said Jazz coach Quin Snyder. “He had a few decisions that he can improve on and he will. That’s part of growing. You’re going to have good and bad games.”
Joe Ingles had another solid game with 16 points and five rebounds with four 3-pointers. Derrick Favors added 12 points and four rebounds, but the Jazz turned the ball over 20 times, allowing 13 points off those mistakes.
What allowed them to win was defense. Memphis was held to just 37.3 percent shooting and less than 28 percent from beyond the arc. After posting 23 points in the opening quarter, Memphis scored just 55 points in the final three quarters with Dillon Brooks leading the way with 18 points. Ben McLemore added 14 points as the Grizzlies suffered their 16th consecutive loss.
The Jazz emphasized being more aggressive, contesting shots and shutting down the paint to make it difficult for the Grizzlies, even as they cut the lead to five early in the third quarter.
“Our game was so much on pick-and-roll, and they were going under and that wasn’t allowing us to trigger much and create that separation and create the help,” said Marc Gasol, who finished with nine points and 11 rebounds. “So we ended up a lot of times with the shot clock running down and jump shots off the dribble, which is not the highest percentage shot that we have.”
Utah (36-30) is currently in eighth place on the current Western Conference standings after beating Memphis for the final playoff spot but there's plenty of basketball to be played. The Jazz will hit the road again Sunday to face the New Orleans Pelicans at 2 p.m. MT.
Only time will tell if Crowder’s hot shooting will carry over. He's more than capable of keeping it going, though.
“He’s been locked in. He’s been having the confidence to take shots,” Mitchell said of Crowder. “I watched him a lot in Boston and we all knew he could hit shots and it was just one of those nights where he was just on in all the right spots and they were leaving him open for some reason and we kept finding him. Jae was on today.”