The Utah Jazz improved to 5-2 on the season with a 124-123 win over the Memphis Grizzlies on Saturday night.
Playing their fifth game in seven days and on the second night of a back-to-back after a loss in Denver on Friday night, the Jazz were going to need a lot of things to fall their way in order to get a win against the Grizzlies.
The Jazz were once again without Rudy Gay (health and safety protocol), Simone Fontecchio (health and safety protocol) and Walker Kessler (illness), just as they were in Denver. They were also without Mike Conley on Saturday as he rested the second game of a back-to-back.
So, things were already looking like they’d be tough.
The Jazz caught a little bit of a break, learning that Ja Morant (illness) was not going to be playing on Saturday, but the Grizzlies have long shown that even when they are without their star that they are capable of winning against some of the best teams in the league.
Winning by committee
The Jazz did not have an easy path to victory on Saturday and there was a ton of chaos at the end of the game that could have absolutely gone the other way. This could have very easily ended up as a Grizzlies win if Jordan Clarkson misses one shot, or if Bane doesn’t slip on the court on the final possession.
But the Jazz also did a lot of things to put themselves in a position to be able to win and most of it has to do with everyone on this team buying into the idea that no one person on this team is going to win games by themselves.
Just look at the assist numbers; Clarkson, 6; Jarred Vanderbilt, 7; Kelly Olynyk, 4; Lauri Markkanen, 5; Collin Sexton, 4. Everyone is sharing the ball, even in the clutch moments of the game, when the game is most often iso-heavy.
“When I look at our roster, I think we have some good players who can do a variety of things,” Jazz head coach Will Hardy said. “But also when I look at our roster, I don’t see a ton of guys that I think are great isolation players. Like, that’s not what makes them great players.”
I don’t know how Hardy has these guys playing like this after only being the coach for such a short period of time, but the buy-in he has from this team, getting them to play within a system that is completely built on the premise that they don’t have a star is probably the most impressive thing this season.
Usually in these post-game analysis’ I bring you a few key points. But I think that the way this Jazz team is playing games deserves full attention right now.
Even when they aren’t winning, this Jazz team doesn’t stray away from trying to do the right thing and make sure that everyone is involved. There’s such a lack of ego.
In the loss to Houston, Hardy threw in Fontecchio for a spark and everyone on the team was in full support of it. In Denver the Jazz were short handed and needed some life out of Ochai Agbaji and Leandro Bolmaro and there was no hesitation to involve them in the offense despite their lack of playing time.
Against the Grizzlies, Hardy turned to Nickeil Alexander-Walker and he was absolutely brilliant. He was defensively more than impressive and the Jazz truly couldn’t have won the game without what he provided.
Every night it’s someone different and something different with this team and that is the story so far this season. The Jazz don’t have that one guy and so they are all doing it together and playing for one another and it was on full display against the Grizzlies.