Grizzlies Center Lorenzen Wright didnt bring his A game to the Memphis offense in its 79-78 win over the Utah Jazz on Monday night. Instead, he saved it all for his rebounding and his last second defense.
Wright blocked a last-second shot attempt by Utah guard John Stockton to give the Grizzlies (17-46) a 3-1 series lead over the Jazz (34-29).
Some divine powers tonight gave us some plays, Grizzlies head coach Sidney Lowe said after the game. Our defense was outstanding. We had some energy. Complimenting Wrights block, the Grizzlies held the Jazz to 37.5% for the night, forced the Jazz into 18 turnovers for 13 points, made 11 steals, and blocked eight shots in all.
Every team has a certain team they play tough, said forward Shane Battier. They Jazz were just our team.
The Grizzlies needed every bit of defense the team could muster on a sub-par offensive effort. The Grizzlies shot only 41% from the field, with forward Pau Gasol once again leading the way with a game-high 20 points. Gasol also pulled down 11 rebounds. Also for the Grizzlies, guard Jason Williams scored 15 points and passed out nine assists, guard Battier scored 11 points, and forward Tony Massenburg scored 10 points to round out the Grizzlies scoring.
Wright only scored eight points, but he concentrated on clearing the glass for the Grizzlies with a game-high 13 boards. Wright also had a total of three blocks for the game.
Defense wins games, Wright said in the Grizzlies locker room after the game. Offense creates excitement. Stockton picked up his dribble, I kept my arms up trying not to foul. He tried to step under me and got in my wingspan. Fortunately, I got the block. If he was going to win it, he was going to have to go over me.
For the Jazz, forward Donyell Marshall scored 16 points, forward Karl Malone scored 14 points, and forward Andrei Kirilenko scored 13 points of his own.
The Jazz started the evening with frustration as coach Jerry Sloan was tossed in the first quarter after a blatant no-call on Massenburg, who floored Kirilenko early on. Sloan erupted at the officiating staff and was called for a double-technical. Both teams played physical ball, but Lowe said he understood Sloans venting. I saw why he was upset, Lowe said. I certainly understand it. That was a tough one. That was a foul.
The Grizzlies travel tonight to San Antonio for a Tuesday game against the Spurs, before returning to Memphis for a Friday, March 15 match-up against the Boston Celtics at 7 p.m. at the Pyramid.