Back in Memphis, Mike Conley helps the Utah Jazz reclaim home-court advantage
The Grindhouse gets loud.
Mike Conley will never forget his first playoff game there.
“We were all nervous, excited and anxious,” he recalled Saturday morning. “Beale Street was packed, full of people, and it was hard to get down to the arena. It was something I’ll never forget.”
On Saturday, on the other side of the floor, Conley and the Utah Jazz managed to quiet the crowd in Memphis.
The Jazz reclaimed homecourt advantage in this best-of-seven series, beating the Grizzlies 121-111 on the road.
“Honestly, I’m just happy for the win,” Conley said after the victory. “This is going to be a tough series. To come into a place like this, that I’m so familiar with, and be on the other side and hear the boos, it definitely sets the stage. I’m happy with the win.”
The Jazz now hold a 2-1 lead in the first-round series with Game 4 slated for Sunday night in Memphis.
“We’ve got an unselfish group and guys hung in there. We talk about closing and we were able to do that tonight. It was the whole group,” Jazz head coach Quin Snyder said.
Conley scored 27 points, dished out eight assists, grabbed eight rebounds and finished with a game-best plus-16 plus/minus in Game 3.
All-Star guard Donovan Mitchell scored a game-high 29 points, one of six Jazzmen to score in double figures.
Memphis guard Ja Morant scored 28 points and Grizzly Dillon Brooks had 27 in defeat.
Memphis led 109-107 after Morant hit a driving floater with 4:27 to play in the fourth quarter.
Mitchell answered with an and-one layup in traffic and a straightaway 3-pointer to help the Jazz close on a 14-2 run.
“When you have a guy with that much competitive fire, he’s going to make some things happen,” Snyder said.
All-Star center Rudy Gobert had 15 points, 14 rebounds and two blocked shots.
“We focused on the little things. We made sure we focused on the rebounds and communicated better,” Gobert said. “And we made sure the ball was moving. When we do those things, everything else kind flows.”
The Jazz defense proved the difference late in the game. The team had seven stops on the final eight possessions of the game to seal the victory.
“One of the things we’ve talked about is trying to get better defensively as the game goes on,” Snyder said. “Obviously Ja is such a terrific player. I thought, as much as anything, Mike Conley was unbelievable with his quickness and presence on the ball.”
Your Memorial Day plans are set: Game 4 in Memphis tips off at 7:30 p.m. on Monday night.