When the Griz lose one, they really lose
With a chance to extend their franchise-record home winning streak to six games, the Memphis Grizzlies had the wrong opponent on the schedule at The Pyramid Sunday.
Karl Malone and Matt Harpring scored 17 points apiece as the Utah Jazz coasted to a wire-to-wire 103-74 victory over the Grizzlies.
The Memphis team managed something of a moral victory when a late mini-rally cut the Utah margin down to 29. It had been in the 30-plus register for most of the final quarter.
Memphis had won five in a row at the Pyramid but never got going against the Jazz, who improved to 25-5 in the all-time series.
Utah rolled to a 104-71 victory over the Grizzlies at the Delta Center on December 6 and picked up where it left off Sunday, opening a 21-11 lead after the first quarter and a 54-31 halftime advantage.
"We want to make it tough on people," Malone said. "When we get the lead, we want to keep the pressure on you."
Malone was 6-of-7 from the field, but his biggest contribution might have been his defense on reigning Rookie of the Year Pau Gasol.
In his second matchup with Malone, Gasol was held to nine points in 29 minutes. He was kept to six points on December 6.
"You don't try to keep him from scoring," Malone said. "You just try to keep him from having one of those big games."
"We got dismantled today," Memphis forward Lorenzen Wright said. "They've got people that are old enough to be our dads. We've got to realize they're not our dads and play the way we are supposed to."
Both teams were coming off big wins on Friday. Utah ended Dallas' season-opening 12-game home winning streak while Memphis used a game-ending 21-4 run to beat Milwaukee.
Neither team came out strong in the first quarter. But after shooting just 35 percent (8-of-23) in the opening period, Utah was an amazing 87 percent (13-of-15) in the second.
"We knew they were going to bump us," Memphis coach Hubie Brown said. "You have to meet their physical style with your physical abilities. They are an established playoff team and that's how they play. We knew that going in tonight."
The Jazz built their first 20-point lead, 43-22, on Andrei Kirilenko's dunk with 3:39 remaining and led by at least 20 over the last 3:02.
Shane Battier scored 11 points for Memphis, which avoided a season low in points with 49 seconds left when Mike Batiste made a short jumper.
Holding a 10-point lead at the start of the second quarter, Utah was able to maintain its double-digit advantage due to Memphis' futility. The Grizzlies shot 17 percent (3-of-18) in the first quarter and began the second by missing their first five shots.
Battier ended the drought with nine minutes remaining and Stromile Swift hit a short jumper on Memphis' next trip. The Grizzlies made five of their final eight shots but could only watch as Utah used a 15-7 run to turn the game into a rout.
Utah shot 50 percent (35-of-70), held a 43-36 rebounding edge, forced 20 turnovers and placed four players in double figures.
The Grizzlies shot just 38 percent (27-of-71) and Batiste, who scored 10 points, was their only other player to reach double figures.
"Not only were we missing shots, but we were turning the ball over," Brown said. "In both games, they shot over 50 percent and we have shot in the 30s. We just couldn't get key people on track."