MEMPHIS, Tenn., March 11 (Ticker)
-- If the Utah Jazz fail to make the playoffs they are going to know exactly whom to blame. Pau Gasol
had a dunk and free throw in the final 66 seconds and Lorenzen Wright
blocked John Stockton
's desperation jumper at the buzzer as the Memphis Grizzlies defeated the Jazz for the third time in four meetings this season, 79-78.
Gasol finished with 20 points and 11 rebounds, his 27th double-double of the season -- tops among all rookies. But he was at his best down the stretch, turning a lob pass from Jason Williams
into a thunderous dunk that put the Grizzlies on top, 78-77, with 1:06 to go.
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Jason Williams dished out nine assists to go with his 15 points.
Joe Murphy/NBAE/Getty Images
After a turnover by Utah's Karl Malone
, Gasol grabbed an offensive rebound, was fouled with 30 seconds left and made one of two from the line for a two-point lead. Jarron Collins
sank a free throw for Utah with 29 seconds left and Shane Battier
missed a jumper for Memphis 23 seconds later. The Jazz tried to run their patented pick-and-roll but the defense converged on Stockton at the top of the key and Wright got a piece of his lunging attempt.
"Stockton picked up his dribble," Wright said. "I kept my arms trying not to foul. He tried to step under me and got in my wingspan. Fortunately, I got the block. If he was going to win it, he was going to have to go over me."
"I was coming to set a pick and I see (Wright) there and I don't really know what happened," Malone said. Donyell Marshall
led Utah with 16 points and nine rebounds. Malone was held to 14 on 4-of-15 shooting while Stockton had nine points, going 4-of-12 from the field.
Utah is 34-29 and occupies the eighth and final playoff spot in the Western Conference. The Jazz are only 1 1/2 games ahead of the surging Los Angeles Clippers and could rue their season series with the Grizzlies.
Utah was 22-1 against the Grizzlies coming into this season but Memphis was able to take three close contests from the more veteran Jazz. The Grizzlies have just 17 wins this season.
"Well, they come out and they execute and they knock us off the block. We want to play in a tuxedo and these guys have got their work clothes on every time they play us," said Utah coach Jerry Sloan, who was ejected midway through the second quarter. "They are a little bit tougher than we are."
"We can't afford to lose any of them right now," Malone said. "Teams just get ready to play us. They like playing us. ... But we can't afford to lose any game."
On Monday, the teams were tied, 72-72, when Williams drained a 3-pointer with 4:12 to play. The teams traded misses but Utah got even on a 3-pointer by Bryon Russell
with 2:22 remaining.
Gasol put the Grizzlies ahead, 76-75, with a free throw with 1:53l left but Malone hit two shots from the line 18 seconds later to give Utah the lead. Williams missed a jumper for Memphis but Marshall committed a turnover with 76 seconds left, setting up Gasol's dunk.
"We hung in there, made plays and executed down the stretch," Memphis coach Sidney Lowe said. "You have to be sharp offensively when you play a team like this."
"It is a great record against a team that is always a playoff contender like the Jazz," Battier said. "We are not a playoff contender right now but it bodes well for the future."
Utah shot just 38 percent (28-of-74) and committed 17 turnovers.
The Grizlies were able to win despite getting outrebounded (47-40), commiting 17 turnovers and missing eight-of- 17 free throws.