MEMPHIS, Tenn. — In the closing minutes, Zach Randolph pretty much did it all, including converting free throws and grabbing four key rebounds in the closing 30 seconds.
Oh, and then there was that 3-pointer with just over 3 minutes left to help the Memphis Grizzlies to a 94-88 win over the Utah Jazz on Friday night.
"He made every timely bucket we could get," guard Mike Conley said. "Those are game-winning plays. He’s been doing it for years, and we don’t expect anything less."
Randolph led the Grizzlies with 25 points and eight rebounds as Memphis won its third straight. Lance Stephenson had 16 points, while Conley had 12 points. Mario Chalmers finished with 11 points.
Stephenson and Chalmers helped the Grizzlies earn a 44-23 advantage in bench points.
"They were able to save the day," Conley said of the second unit.
Gordon Hayward, who led the Jazz with 18 points, agreed that the Grizzlies’ bench experience was "really important."
"You look at the teams that end up winning, and they always have good benches," Hayward said.
Derrick Favours scored 14 points, while Rudy Gobert had 13 points, 18 rebounds and five blocks. Shelvin Mack recorded 12 points and eight assists for Utah, which lost its fifth straight, striking another blow to its playoff hopes.
The Jazz entered the night 1 1/2 games behind the idle Houston Rockets for the final spot in the Western Conference playoff race.
"It’s hard. Our guys hurt," Utah coach Quin Snyder said of the skid, later adding: "This is the toughest part of the year from a scheduling standpoint for us."
Memphis held an 89-81 lead with 3:23 left after Randolph connected on the 3-pointer with the shot clock running out. Gobert, a 59 per cent free-throw shooter, made five of his six foul shots over a minute span. That, along with a layup by Favours, cut the Grizzlies’ lead to 90-88 with 44.2 seconds left.
Memphis misfired on two 3-pointers on its next possession, but Randolph grabbed the offensive rebounds both times. That, and four free throws from Randolph in the final 21.1 seconds sealed the victory.
Memphis was terrible to open the game, missing 13 of its first 17 shots and appearing completely out of sync. Meanwhile, the Jazz were shooting at a clip around 70 per cent, helping Utah to an early 14-point lead.
Memphis reversed the trend in the second quarter, converting 12 of 18 shots spurred by the reserves, such as Stephenson and Chalmers. Randolph had 12 in the half as the Grizzlies carried a 49-39 lead into the break.
The win was another success for a Memphis team that has changed its identity after recent trades, a season-ending broken foot for leading scorer Marc Gasol and a bum knee that has kept defensive stalwart Tony Allen out of recent games.
"Every night’s going to be like that because we’re short-handed," Randolph said. "Everybody has written us off and said we don’t have a chance. That we might not make the playoffs, so it’s definitely a challenge."
Jazz: Utah’s 11 points in the second were a season low for points in a quarter. … Rodney Hood drew a technical midway through the second quarter. … The five-game losing streak is the longest of the season for Utah. . Gobert recorded his 16th double-double of the season, and his 18 rebounds were one short of his season best.
Grizzlies: Stephenson drew a technical for taunting in the third. JaMychal Green also got a technical in the third for taunting after a dunk over Gobert. … Chalmers matched his season high with five steals. … Chris Andersen had a season-high 10 rebounds … Randolph’s 3-pointer was his fourth from outside the arc this season.
PASSING TINY: Randolph’s 25 points moved him past Tiny Archibald (16,481) for 94th on the NBA’s career scoring list. "He was one of the greatest. It’s a blessing. I’m thankful," Randolph said.
Jazz: Visit the New Orleans Pelicans on Saturday.
Grizzlies: Host the Phoenix Suns on Sunday.