The Memphis Grizzlies were able to steal Game 1 in Utah, putting the Western Conference’s top seed under pressure heading into Game 2 as they attempted to avoid matching the Clippers’ record of dropping two games in a row at home to start the first round. The good news for Utah was that Donovan Mitchell was returning from an ankle injury after being controversially held out of Game 1, and he showed no signs of rust after a 17-game absence, leading the Jazz with 25 points on 8-of-19 shooting, including a 5-of-10 performance from three.
The Jazz had seven players in double figures, including five who scored 16 or more points, in addition to Mitchell’s excellent showing. Bojan Bogdanovic had 18 points and 6MOY, while Mike Conley scored 20 points and 14 assists. Off the bench, Jordan Clarkson scored 16 points. Rudy Gobert, who had been roundly chastised in Game 1 for flopping while on the bench, was equally impressive in Game 2, putting up 21 points, 13 rebounds, and four blocks, including the game’s highlight of stifling a Ja Morant slam attempt.
That was one of the few stops the Jazz were able to get on Morant, who almost single-handedly kept the Jazz from running away from Memphis. That the Grizzlies were able to make it a six-point game going into the fourth quarter was nothing short of miraculous, and it was on the backs of an outrageous 47-point, 7-assist effort from Morant.
He accomplished a little bit of everything, shooting 15-of-26 from the floor and 15-of-20 from the free throw line in the Grizzlies’ highest-scoring game in franchise history. Morant sliced through the Utah defense, seemingly getting to the rim at whim, which is no easy feat against the Jazz, and he even got a little retribution on Gobert late in the game, going by him for a dunk.
Unfortunately for Morant and the Grizzlies, they couldn’t keep up with the Jazz’s much-improved shooting in Game 2, as Utah rained 19 three-pointers on Memphis at a 48.7% clip, while the Grizzlies were just 8-of-23 from long range. That will most certainly be the story of the series, as Utah simply has more firepower when Mitchell is on the court than Memphis, but the Grizzlies continue to show amazing heart by refusing to give up no matter how large the deficit. The Jazz appeared to be on their way to a rout, but the Grizzlies and Morant had other ideas, keeping the game close at 141-129.
The series now turns back to Memphis, where the Grizzlies will hope that the Jazz cool off a little from three and that they can continue to make Utah’s life difficult. With Mitchell on the floor, the Jazz looked significantly more confident offensively, and the number of shooters and scorers they can throw at Memphis will make an upset bid extremely difficult to pull off.