The Memphis Grizzlies appear to be finding their way back to doing what they do best – beating odds and winning games.
The Grizzlies racked back-to-back wins for the second time this season by topping the Utah Jazz 104-94 on Monday night (Dec. 24) at FedExForum.
After enduring five straight losses, the Grizzlies had just defeated the New York Knicks 95-87 on Saturday (Dec. 21) with power forward Zach Randolph leading the way. He finished the contest with 25 points and 15 rebounds. Tony Allen followed with 19 points. The Grizz outrebounded the Knicks 56-29 and improved to 11-15 on the season and 6-5 on the road.
The grind continued on Monday as Randolph led all scorers with 22 points against Utah. He added 10 rebounds and seven assists, posting his second-straight double-double of the season.
"It feels good," Randolph said. "We're getting better. We've been struggling, but I think we should just come out and play hard, and let everything else take care of itself."
Memphis' point guard Mike Conley started after missing two games with a thigh contusion. Tayshaun Prince was out due to injury for his third straight game. James Johnson was inserted into the starting lineup in his place. Johnson was called up from the NBA Development League's Rio Grande Valley Vipers on Dec. 16.
Johnson's spark in the starting lineup has given the team momentum and fans a reason to cheer. First Johnson caught an offensive rebound in the first quarter that bounced off the rim and slammed it in the basket. He later made an enormous block in the midst of a Jazz run, which led to a Randolph lay-up. Johnson also made the assist.
Memphis' bench outscored Utah's bench by 33 points (51-18). Jarryd Bayless scored 17 points with a season high four three-pointers.
Conley finished with four steals one of which led to a dunk by Jon Leuer with seven minutes before the half. Right before the first period ended, Randolph was fouled and made both shots at the line sending his team into the locker room with a five-point lead (53-48).
The Grizzlies went on a 9-2 run during the first three minutes of the 4th quarter to give them a 13-point lead. Mike Miller contributed seven minutes off the bench during which he drove through the lane for a lay-up with 5:24 left in the fourth quarter to give the Grizzlies their largest lead of 16.
Richard Jefferson and Trey Burke both finished with 18 points for the Jazz. Gordon Hayward and Derrick Favors followed with 16 points each. Hayward added 11 rebounds, nine assists and four blocks.
"I'm proud of us for competing," Jefferson said. "We're in the game. We just had an opportunity, we just came up a little short."
The Grizzlies will look for a third straight win in Houston against the Houston Rockets on Thursday (Dec. 26) and return home to face the Denver Nuggets on Saturday (Dec. 28).
NOTE: To honor Memphis Grizzlies' forward Zach Randolph for all his charitable efforts in the Memphis community, Mayor A C Wharton Jr. will declare Friday (Dec. 27th) "Zach Randolph Day" in Memphis. Randolph will be on-hand to accept the proclamation and to host "Zach Randolph Day" benefiting Le Bonheur Children's Hospital at Walmart Neighborhood Market (2856 Hickory Hill Ext., Memphis 38115) at 4 p.m.