Utah Jazz evened their best-of-seven Western Conference first-round playoff series against the visiting Memphis Grizzlies with a 141-129 victory on Wednesday night in Salt Lake City.
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Donovan Mitchell returned to the line-up to lead a balanced attack that overpowered a career-best, 47-point performance by Ja Morant.
The Grizzlies’ point guard became the youngest player since LeBron James to score over 45 points in a single match in the playoffs, as well as setting a new Memphis franchise record for points in a postseason game.
Ja Morant (21 years, 289 days) is the 2nd youngest player in NBA history to record 45+ points in an #NBAPlayoffs game. The youngest was LeBron James (21 years, 124 days) with 45 points on 05/03/2006. @EliasSports pic.twitter.com/zbuc7Ay7yT
Mitchell, who finished with a team-high 25 points, bombed in five 3-pointers in 10 tries and teammates Mike Conley and Joe Ingles buried three apiece as the top-seeded Jazz, who led the NBA in the regular season in both most 3-pointers made and fewest allowed, dominated the eighth-seeded Grizzlies from beyond the arc to offset an upset loss in the series opener.
The scene shifts to Memphis for Games 3 and 4 of the series, with the Grizzlies hosting Game 3 on Saturday.
With Mitchell still nursing a sprained right ankle, Memphis shocked the West’s regular-season champs by holding them to 12-for-47 (25.5 percent) accuracy on three-pointers in Game 1.
But Utah came out firing in the rematch, nailing 10 treys in the first half alone en route to a 74-54 lead at the break.
Morant and Dillon Brooks, who missed most of the first half in foul trouble, hit three hoops apiece in a 27-12 Grizzlies flurry in the latter stages of the third quarter to get Memphis within 96-93.
But Jordan Clarkson dropped in three free throws, Rudy Gobert threw down two dunks and Mitchell completed a three-point play in a 10-0 Utah burst bridging the third and fourth quarters that extended the lead back to double figures, and the Jazz kept Memphis at arm’s length the rest of the way.
Gobert shot 9-for-11 en route to 21 points and a double-double with a game-high 13 rebounds for Utah, which hit 54.4 percent of its shots overall and 48.7 percent (19-for-39) on 3-pointers.
Conley also recorded a double-double with a game-high 15 assists to complement 20 points, while Bojan Bogdanovic (18), Clarkson (16), Royce O’Neale (14) and Ingles (14) made it seven Utah players scoring in double figures.
Morant’s 47 points surpassed his previous career-high of 44 set in December against San Antonio. He made 15 field goals, including a pair of 3-pointers, and a career-best 15 free throws en route to his total.
47 for 12.
The most EVER in franchise history. @JaMorant | #NxtUpMemphis pic.twitter.com/agu18w57we
The second-year standout also found time for a team-high seven assists. Brooks finished with 23 points for Memphis, which got double-figure scoring from all five starters but a total of just 14 points from five reserves.
Jonas Valanciunas had 18 points, Jaren Jackson Jr. 16 and Kyle Anderson 11 for the Grizzlies, who also shot well overall (54.1 percent) but struggled to 8-for-23 (34.8 percent) on three-pointers.
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