The Memphis Grizzlies weren’t intimidated being the youngest team in the NBA playoffs Sunday. The Utah Jazz, who had the NBA’s best record, found out by testing them.
Donovan Mitchell tried to trash talk Kyle Anderson from the sidelines, but Anderson mouthed back and the two had to be separated. Dillon Brooks and Mike Conley traded words in the first quarter and Brooks got even with a third-quarter scoring spree.
When the Jazz got close in the fourth quarter, the Grizzlies traded scrappy play for guts and composure. Brooks escaped from the defense for a driving layup with 3.4 seconds left to seal a 112-109 road win in Game 1 of the first-round playoff series. .
Memphis Grizzlies center Jonas Valanciunas blocks the shot of Utah Jazz guard Jordan Clarkson during the second quarter at Vivint Arena.
Here are some takeaways after the No. 8-seeded Grizzlies took a 1-0 lead in the best-of-seven series against the top-seeded Jazz:
Brooks and Morant shine in playoff debuts
Brooks fed off agitating Conley and deflated the Jazz with 14 third-quarter points and timely baskets that fired him up along with the Grizzlies bench
Ja Morant saved his best for last with 10 points in the fourth quarter. After Rudy Gobert fouled out with 4:25 left, Morant attacked the basket and scored six late points as the Grizzlies held on despite Bojan Bogdanovic leading a Jazz comeback with 20 of his 29 points in the fourth.
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Brooks finished with 31 points. Morant had 26 points.
Building off tension
Mitchell was a late scratch with a sprained ankle and is day-to-day per Jazz coach Quin Synder. But he gave the Grizzlies motivation with his second-quarter exchange with Anderson.
The Grizzlies trailed 34-21 before going on a 28-9 run to end the half and didn’t trail the rest of the game.
Desmond Bane made a 3-pointer to end the third quarter and was swarmed by his teammates after exchanging words with Georges Niang.
Instead of being overwhelmed by over 13,000 fans in attendance, the Grizzlies fed off the crowd and then quieted them.
Anderson set a franchise record with six steals, including five by halftime. The Grizzlies forced 16 turnovers and held the Jazz, the NBA’s leader in 3-pointers made and attempted, to just 12 threes and 25.5% shooting.
Instead of looking fatigued from playing just 48 hours earlier to get in the playoffs, they were the aggressor as the Jazz found few easy looks.
The Grizzlies have now won eight of their last nine games since May 10. They were underdogs coming into the series but by stealing Game 1, they showed they weren’t content to be there. They’re willing to fight and take stripes instead of earn them by defeat.
You can reach Evan Barnes on Twitter (@Evan_B) or by email at firstname.lastname@example.org
This article originally appeared on Memphis Commercial Appeal: NBA playoffs: Grizzlies upset Jazz in Game 1 of first round series