LAKE BUENA VISTA, Fla. (AP)Joe Ingles scored 12 of his 25 points in the fourth quarter, and the Utah Jazz kept the Memphis Grizzlies winless in the NBA bubble with a 124-115 victory Wednesday.
Mike Conley had 23 points and seven assists against his former team for the Jazz (43-25), who improved to 2-2 in the seeding round and nudged ahead of Houston (42-25) for the fourth spot in the Western Conference standings.
”We just moved that ball, and when we rotate it from corner to corner, I know it’s hard to defend,” Conley said. ”When we get into that kind of rhythm and mode, it’s pretty tough.”
Dillon Brooks scored 23 points, while Grayson Allen had a career-high 20 points and six 3-pointers as the Grizzlies dropped to 0-4 in the seeding round, further endangering their chances of hanging on to the No. 8 seed in the West playoffs.
Jonas Valanciunas had 21 points and 14 rebounds, and Ja Morant added 20 points and nine assists for Memphis (32-37), which has lost five straight overall since March.
”Our guys are getting better every single game,” Memphis coach Taylor Jenkins said. ”It’s all magnified in a four-game stretch where we’re 0-4 and it hasn’t shaken our way, but we’re learning a lot from every game. We’ve just got to keep gaining confidence from what we’re doing.”
Rudy Gobert had 21 points and 16 rebounds for Utah, which took charge of a close game with a 9-0 run in the closing minutes. The Jazz held the Grizzlies scoreless for 2:56 while getting back-to-back 3-pointers from Ingles, who hit six 3s overall and finished two points shy of his career high.
”I was taking advantage of some opportunities and picking my spots,” Ingles said. ”I don’t think we’re a team that takes bad shots. The more confidence we have in each other, the more we’ll keep doing that.”
Memphis has been plagued by slow starts in the bubble, but the Grizzlies jumped to an early double-digit lead. Utah responded with a balanced 22-1 run in the final 4:41 before halftime for a 64-55 lead.
Grizzlies: They wore their turquoise Vancouver Grizzlies throwback uniforms. … Memphis’ final five games in the seeding round are against winning teams. … Memphis hit 11 3-pointers after struggling from distance earlier in the restart. … Allen is 14 for 21 on 3-pointers in the bubble.
Jazz: Donovan Mitchell added 18 points and seven rebounds. … They wore their Stockton-and-Malone purple mountain throwback uniforms. … Conley hit four 3-pointers in his second straight impressive offensive game. He is the Grizzlies’ franchise leader in scoring and games played, among many categories.
Portland (31-38) leads a pack of four teams now within three games of Memphis for the eighth seed. What’s more, if the eighth-place team doesn’t finish four games ahead of the team in ninth, those teams must play each other to determine who makes the playoffs.
The Grizzlies had a 3 1/2-game lead over the Blazers for eighth place entering the bubble, but the Grizz claim the stakes don’t bother them.
”We’re still focused on whichever game we’ve got coming up,” Morant said. ”The media are going, `Oh, well, they had this lead. Now they have this lead. Somebody is coming to take it.’ We can’t pay attention to that, because that would lead to us trying to put pressure on ourselves, which we don’t have to. We’re learning from everything we’re going through right now. We’ve got four games left to play, and we’re going to attack those games.”
Grizzlies rookie Brandon Clarke had his lowest-scoring performance in the bubble with six points despite starting in place of Jaren Jackson Jr. Memphis’ second-leading scorer was ruled out for the season Tuesday with a torn meniscus in his left knee.
Grizzlies: Face the Oklahoma City Thunder on Friday.
Jazz: Face the San Antonio Spurs on Friday.
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