February 04, 2015

While the Memphis Grizzlies seem to have rediscovered their defensive prowess, the Utah Jazz hope they can pick up where they left off on the offensive end in their last game.

The Grizzlies seek three straight wins for the first time since mid-November when they visit the Jazz on Saturday night.

Memphis (18-16) allowed 125 and 123 points within a three-game stretch in mid-December, leaving doubts about what was a top-five defense the previous four seasons and second-best in the NBA a year ago.

A stretch of holding opponents to 93.0 points while winning four of six games suggests the Grizzlies have figured things out, and the exclamation point was Tuesday's 99-90 overtime win against Miami. They limited the Heat to an opponent season-low 36 second-half points.

"We were on the same page," Jeff Green said. "Defense wins games, so we had to get it done."

Marc Gasol scored seven of his 23 points in overtime and added eight boards, six assists and four blocks. It was the 7-foot-1 center's first 20-point game since Dec. 14 and the Grizzlies are 9-1 when he scores at least 19.

''Marc playing like that is big,'' Zach Randolph said. ''He's our catalyst. How he goes is how we go.''

Gasol scored 13 points on 4-of-14 shooting in an 89-79 loss at Utah on Nov. 7, though he did finish with 10 rebounds and six assists.

Randolph scored 17 points against the Heat while making his first start in 10 games. He took the place of Matt Barnes, who will serve the second part of a two-game suspension on Saturday for his altercation with Knicks coach Derek Fisher in October.

Memphis opens a three-game road trip but follows it with nine of 11 games at home to close January. The Grizzlies, who have lost five of six road games, have an opportunity to make a midseason push with their next set of back-to-back contests not until Feb. 5 and 6.

Utah (14-17) has squandered a stretch of 14 of 19 games in Salt Lake City by winning just seven of the first 17. The Jazz, however, have won four of five games at home and they opened a three-game homestand with a rare offensive outburst in Thursday's 109-96 win over Portland.

Utah ranks toward the bottom of the NBA with 97.0 points per game and has scored fewer than 100 in 21 of 31 games. The Jazz, though, reached 50-percent shooting for the third time Thursday and made 15 of 33 shots from 3-point range. They finished with 19 assists and six turnovers after having 15 assists and 19 giveaways in Wednesday's 94-80 loss at Minnesota.

''I don't know what happens in 24 hours, but a lot of the same looks we had (Wednesday) night, we made them," coach Quin Snyder said. "... Just sometimes you have to step away from it and stay confident and keep shooting.''

Trey Burke has come alive in the last two games, scoring 50 points on 54.1-percent shooting. He made 6 of 8 3-pointers for 24 points against the Grizzlies in November.

Memphis has won nine of the last 13 meetings with Utah, including four of six as the visitors.

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