Grizzlies-Jazz Preview

Associated Press  |  Last updated December 15, 2012
The Memphis Grizzlies are on their longest slide of the season, and concluding this three-game road trip against the Utah Jazz doesn't seem to be the ideal way to solve it. The Grizzlies attempt to snap their skid by winning in Salt Lake City for the first time in almost six years Saturday night. Memphis (14-6) has dropped four of six games this month and three in a row following Friday's 99-94 loss at Denver. The team's longest skid last season was four games from Jan. 24-30. Part of the Grizzlies' recent troubles stems from averaging 17.5 turnovers over the last five games after committing 14.1 per contest during a 12-2 start. They coughed the ball up 16 times against the Nuggets - nine in the second half - while shooting 41.5 percent from the field. "This is where we show who we are," forward Rudy Gay said. "We're going to find a way to get out of this." It seems a visit to Salt Lake City may not be the place to do it. The Grizzlies have lost nine in a row on the road to the Jazz (13-11) since a 132-130 overtime win Jan. 24, 2007. They've also turned the ball over 18.1 times per game during that stretch. Memphis, though, won the latest meeting 103-94 at home Nov. 5 as Marc Gasol had 22 points with eight rebounds, eight assists and two blocks. The center is averaging 19.3 points, 9.3 boards and 3.5 blocks over his past four games against Utah. Gasol enters this matchup coming off perhaps his worst shooting performance of the season, making 2 of 10 field goals to finish with 10 points Friday. Gay leads the Grizzlies with 19.2 points per game, and continues to be a source of consistency by scoring at least 14 in each game this season. He's been doing his part of late, scoring 21 points in each of the last two games. Gay is averaging 21.6 points and 7.8 rebounds in his last five games against the Jazz, but shot a paltry 3 for 17 from the floor and needed to hit all eight free throws to finish with 15 points in the latest meeting. Utah is trying to get back on track after its four-game winning streak was halted with a 99-84 defeat at Phoenix on Friday. The Jazz shot 40.2 percent from the floor while making just 3 of 11 from long range. "I feel like we didn't execute as well as we're supposed to," forward Paul Millsap said. "We had some open looks that didn't go down and our offense was just real stagnant." Being back home should help. Utah is 9-1 while averaging 103.4 points at EnergySolutions Arena, and Al Jefferson has been the catalyst. The center is averaging 20.7 points on 53.1 percent shooting in nine home games compared to 15.1 points and 45.2 percent on the road. That disparity was evident in Memphis last month, when he scored 11 points with 10 rebounds. Millsap is trying to bounce back from his 12-point performance on Friday after he averaged 22.5 and 8.8 rebounds over the previous four games. He had 14 points and eight boards against the Grizzlies in November, losing the battle on the glass to Zach Randolph, who pulled down 18 rebounds with 16 points. Utah guard Gordon Hayward, who had a season-low three points in a season-low 16 minutes off the bench Friday, has averaged 19.7 points on 53.8 percent shooting in his last three games - all starts - versus Memphis.
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