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Randolph, Memphis beat Jazz 99-86 to halt skid
By LYNN DeBRUIN
SALT LAKE CITY (AP) The Memphis Grizzlies were frustrated, having dropped three straight after opening the season with a franchise-best mark.
They also were tired of coming up empty in Salt Lake City, where they hadn't walked away winners since 2007.
That all changed Saturday night when they overcame a miserable first half to cruise to a 99-86 victory over the Utah Jazz.
"It's been a long time," said Zach Randolph, who scored 25 points and grabbed 16 rebounds to fuel Memphis. "It's always hard to win here."
At halftime the Jazz appeared headed toward another victory in front of their fans.
But the Grizzlies outscored Utah 28-10 in the third quarter to turn a 10-point halftime deficit into a 72-64 lead entering the fourth. The Jazz shot just 15 percent (3 of 20) in the quarter after shooting 56.4 percent at halftime.
Stopping Utah center Al Jefferson was a key.
"They put Zach on me and had a guy sitting in my lap the whole time," Jefferson said. "It's kind of difficult for an offensive player to operate. We got to move better and I've got to do a better job of passing the ball outside. They're a good defensive team. They had a good game plan."
Utah's 10 points in the third were the fewest since the Jazz scored six in the fourth against the Lakers on Dec. 9, 2009.
After shooting 7 of 12 for 14 points in the first half, Jefferson went 1 of 5 the rest of the way and finished with 21 points - the rest too little too late.
"We went out there and turned it up," said Randolph, who was 3 of 3 for eight points, with six rebounds in the third quarter.
Marc Gasol led the team with nine points in the third and also grabbed six rebounds in the quarter. He finished with 16 points, eight rebounds, two blocks and two steals.
Even if Jefferson mistakenly referred to Gasol as Pau, the credit was the same as he called both Randolph and Gasol "beasts."
"They got some tough plays down low," said Jazz forward Paul Millsap, who added 12 points and four rebounds.
"Z-Bo (Randolph) he never stops, he never gives up. So he's going to go out there every time. They're a physical team. They get down and dirty. ... They pushed us out past the 3-point line and we couldn't get into our sets, couldn't really run anything. You struggle against a really good team, you're going to pay for it."
The Jazz got within four points on a 3-pointer by DeMarre Carroll, a former Grizzlies draft pick, with 10:30 remaining. But Randolph remained hot, scoring eight straight in a 4-minute span as Memphis surged ahead 86-75 with 5:45 left.
Memphis held a 48-35 advantage on the boards, including an 18-7 edge on the offensive end. Jefferson was held without an offensive rebound.
The Grizzlies also forced the Jazz into 15 turnovers and held a 50-38 advantage on points in the paint.
"A lot of times the ball just bounced right at them but other times they outworked us," Jefferson said.
The win halted a three-game losing streak for Memphis, and dropped Utah to 9-2 at home.
"This has got to be the motivator," Jefferson said of Utah's first loss in 10 games at home against Memphis. "I think we got too comfortable at home. This proves we can lose at home. But it shows you can win on the road."
That's where the Jazz are headed, for a four-game road trip starting in Brooklyn on Tuesday.
The Grizzlies, who halted a three-game losing streak, have three straight at home.
"We had to get back to what we do, and that's defensive pressure," guard Mike Conley said. "It was frustrating. It was hard to look at us play so well and the last week play so bad. For us to come here and get a win in a very tough atmosphere says a lot about us handling adversity. This is a huge win for us."
It started with an 11-3 run to open the third, Rudy Gay's three-point play and Randolph's short jumper getting Memphis within 57-55 with 8:04 left.
It was a sharp contrast to the first half when the Jazz led by as many as 12 points thanks to their big men. Jefferson scored 10 straight for Utah during a 3-minute stretch in the first quarter, and replacement Enes Kanter started 4 of 4 and had 10 points in eight minutes and 10 by halftime.
Then it all changed for a Jazz team coming off a 15-road loss to Phoenix after seemingly finding itself in back-to-back wins over the Lakers and Spurs.
"It (hurts)," Millsap said. "We're not sound. That's how we have to look at it. It's one we wish we could have back."
Especially the third quarter.
"We rushed some shots," Jazz coach Tyrone Corbin said. "We didn't have the same energy we had in the first half."
NOTES: Memphis F Darrell Arthur is to be evaluated when the Grizzlies return home after suffering a mild concussion Friday against Denver. He did not play Saturday. ... Memphis has forced at least 10 turnovers in 125 consecutive games. ... The Jazz held a moment of silence before the game for victims of the Connecticut elementary school tragedy. After the first quarter, they also organized an emotional reunion for a military mom, Jeanne Izatt, who hadn't seen sons Connor and Chance since April. ... Jazz G Jamaal Tinsley was drafted by the Grizzlies in 2001 (No. 27 overall) only to be traded draft night to Indiana. He returned to play the 2008-09 season in Memphis. .... Jazz G Hayward was happy to see his college team, Butler, knock off top-ranked Indiana earlier Saturday but was just 3 of 8 for the Jazz. ... Utah outscored the Grizzlies 15-2 on the fast break in the first half.
Updated December 16, 2012