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Instant analysis: Jordan Clarkson busts out of slump as Jazz beat Grizzlies for the second straight night

SHARE Instant analysis: Jordan Clarkson busts out of slump as Jazz beat Grizzlies for the second straight night
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Utah Jazz guard Jordan Clarkson (0) shoots around Memphis Grizzlies guard Ja Morant (12) during the game at Vivint Smart Home Arena in Salt Lake City on Saturday, March 27, 2021.

Annie Barker, Deseret News

The Utah Jazz rolled over the Memphis Grizzlies 126-110 on Saturday night in the second game of their back-to-back set at Vivint Arena.

High notes

  • Jordan Clarkson busted out of his five-game shooting slump in a pretty big way Saturday night. Clarkson came off the bench to score 28 points, including 20 in the first half as he found the stroke that made him the early front runner for NBA Sixth Man of the Year. Clarkson finished the game making 11 of 21 from the field, including 8 of 11 in the first half. In the Jazz’s previous five games — it should be noted four of which were wins — Clarkson shot just 23 percent (16 of 68), averaging just 10.2 points. Clarkson shook the slump quickly as he made his first 3-point attempt of the game. He was 4 of 6 from deep at halftime. The 28 points from Clarkson were his most since scoring 40 against Philadelphia back on Feb. 15.

  • Donovan Mitchell had the hot hand early on Saturday, scoring a new career-high 28 points in the first half on his way to a 35-point night. He finished the first half 10 of 12 from the field, and put the punctuation mark on the 70-point first half for the Jazz with a deep 3 in the closing seconds of the second quarter. Mitchell’s closing stat line was nearly identical to his line from Friday’s 117-114 win over the Grizzlies. He scored 35 the night before, which also included 5 of 7 shooting from the 3-point line and 6 of 6 from the line. On Friday night he had six assists and Saturday he had seven.

“He really pushed the ball at the beginning of the possessions, which I think puts him in attacking mindset. He was attacking, but he was creating. A lot of the catch and shoot 3s, he created space where he wasn’t hugging the line. He shoots the ball with range, we’re confident when he shoots the ball but he also did everything, he got in the paint, got his eyes out and found people. I thought this was one of the best defensive efforts he’s had too, and I know that’s something we’ve talked about and he takes a lot of pride in.” — Quin Snyder

  • Royce O’Neale provided a big spark in the third quarter, scoring eight straight points during a 60-second stretch after going scoreless in the first half. The first points of the stretch came on a layup that resulted from sprinting up the floor and receiving a great cross-court bounce pass from Joe Ingles near midcourt. The next two were textbook catch-and-shoot 3s, one on a behind-the-back bounce pass from Mitchell and the second on a kickout from a penetrating Ingles. Those eight points pushed the lead to 88-60 at the 7:51 mark of the third quarter, and the lead only dipped below 20 points once the rest of the game. O’Neale finished 10 points.

“Guys were finding me, our defense led to the offense, getting out in transition, getting those easy buckets, knocking down open 3s, and creating for everyone else as well.” — Royce O’Neale

  • Newly-acquired guard Matt Thomas made his Jazz debut on Saturday night after being added in a trade with the Toronto Raptors at the trade deadline on Saturday for a future second-round pick. Thomas, who’s known as a 3-point shooting specialist, will have to wait another night to make his Jazz scoring debut though, as he finished the game going 0 for 3 from the field, including 0 of 2 from 3-point range.

“It’s been a crazy 48 hours since I got the news roughly, so it’s been wild packing up your life and moving across country and then just trying to get acclimated to the team and my teammates and the system and the plays everything. I’m just trying to do everything I can to pick things up, ask questions. My teammates have been amazing, and same with the coaching staff, just top down is a first-class organization.” — Matt Thomas

  • In Utah’s narrow 117-114 win over Memphis on Friday, Ja Morant had a big game for the Grizzlies scoring 32 points and was a big factor in the second half as his team nearly erased a 21-point deficit. Twenty-four hours later, the Jazz held him to just 12 points, and O’Neale said it took a concerted effort to do so.

“Just trying to make him uncomfortable, trying to beat him to spots. He’s a great player. He finds his teammates, finishes at the basket, makes shots, but just giving him different looks, making tough for him, throwing different coverages at him, playing our defense really.” — Royce O’Neale

Low notes

  • Bojan Bogdanovic equaled a season low on Saturday night scoring just three points, matching the three points he scored in a 106-95 loss to Phoenix back on Dec. 31. His only points of the game on Saturday ironically enough came on his final shot of the game, a 3-pointer with 6:32 remaining. His bucket extended the lead to 120-94, and Snyder pulled most the starters during the ensuing timeout. Bogdanovic finished the game 1 of 7 from the field and 1 of 2 from behind the arc. He’d seemingly found a groove shooting over 50 percent in the past two games, but Saturday’s struggles reverted back to his stretch of six straight games from March 12 to March 22 in which he shot 40 percent or below from the field in each.
  • There weren’t too many low points for the Jazz, who led by as many as 30 points at one point in the second half. Perhaps the only low point was how it closed the third quarter. After building the 90-60 lead midway through the third, and still leading 98-70 at the 4:27 mark, the Grizzlies ended the quarter on a 12-2 as the Jazz missed 7 of their last eight shots of the quarter and also turned it over four times. Many of the shots were contested 3s late in the shot clock as Memphis made Utah work hard each possession.

Flat notes

  • Jazz point guard Mike Conley sat out Saturday’s second game of a back-to-back with the Grizzlies to give the veteran rest and manage the workload on his legs. Conley has sat out the first or second game of back-to-backs regularly this season, and with six more back-to-backs for the Jazz during the regular season, more nights off are inevitable, even though Snyder was noncommittal on how many possibly.

“That’s something we take day-to-day. Obviously he’s sat out the last couple but I think as the season progresses that’s something we’ll continue to look at and continue to analyze in conjunction with obviously Mike himself and sports performance,” — Quin Snyder