Memphis opens key road swing against Utah
(SportsNetwork.com) - A five-game road trip could determine the playoff fate of the Memphis Grizzlies, as they open the trek Wednesday in Salt Lake City against the Utah Jazz.
The Grizzlies are seventh in the Western Conference and only percentage points ahead of the Dallas Mavericks. The Phoenix Suns are on the outside, but by only a half-game in back of the Grizzlies.
Memphis is just two games off Portland for the fifth spot. Golden State is sixth in the West -- 1 1/2 games in front of Memphis and a half-game behind the Trail Blazers.
Now that the dust has settled on the playoff scenarios, the Grizzlies are counting on a .500 or better record on this trip. They will also make important stops in Golden State, Portland, Denver and Minnesota, and have a 19-14 mark outside of FedExForum.
The Grizzlies won their 10th straight home game with Monday's 109-92 victory over the Minnesota Timberwolves. Mike Conley led the way with 23 points, Zach Randolph added 17 and both Tayshaun Prince and Ed Davis scored 12 points for Memphis, which made 53 percent from the field and 6-of-12 3-pointers. Memphis is a season-high 14 games above .500 (42-28).
"I thought our ball movement offensively was tremendous," said Grizzlies coach David Joerger, whose squad has won 10 of the last 13 games.. "I'm proud that we're kind of growing right now, taking care of business and just focusing for longer periods of time."
Marc Gasol had his seventh double-double with 14 points and 12 rebounds. Back- to-back 3-pointers by Conley and Mike Miller staked the Grizzlies to a 93-68 advantage in the fourth quarter.
The Grizzlies, who limited Timberwolves star Kevin Love to 16 points and seven rebounds, have held their opponent under 100 points in the last 10 games and are third in the NBA in points allowed (94.0 ppg).
Grizzlies guard Tony Allen (virus) is questionable Wednesday.
Utah hopes to have guard Alec Burks versus the Grizzlies and he has missed the past two games with an ankle injury. Burks, who is doubtful, is averaging 13.8 points this season and has scored in double digits the last 20 games, posting an average of 15.8 ppg in that time.
The Jazz will close out a three-game homestand Wednesday and failed to build on a recent win over Orlando this past weekend. In Monday's 114-94 setback to Detroit, Gordon Hayward poured in 32 points on 10-of-19 shooting and Trey Burke added 15 points.
Enes Kanter scored 14 points for the Jazz, losers in 12 of the last 14 games. Utah was done in by a 34-17 second quarter by the Pistons and now has a 15-20 record at EnergySolutions Arena.
"It's difficult when you let teams get going," said Jazz head coach Tyrone Corbin. "They feel good about all the shots they got."
Utah is 7-14 at home against teams from the West and will visit New Orleans and Oklahoma City at the end of the week.
The Jazz are 0-2 against the Grizzlies this season and have lost three straight and six of the past seven meetings between the teams. Memphis has dropped 10 of 11 trips to Salt Lake City.
03/26 10:20:06 ET