In the span of about 48 hours, the Jazz's playoff hopes went from promising to in peril. Losses to two of the three teams they are fighting for the eighth and final Western Conference postseason berth, at Houston on Sunday night and at Memphis on Monday night, will do that to a team.
After falling Monday, Utah stood three games behind eighth-place Memphis with both Houston and Phoenix still between the Jazz and the Grizzlies. Had the Jazz won in Memphis, they would have been only one game behind Memphis and owned season-series tiebreaker rights against the Grizzlies.
And point guard Devin Harris is likely to miss at least one game after re-injuring his hamstring.
Despite all that and even with just 11 regular-season games remaining, Utah coach Tyrone Corbin remains optimistic.
"Well, we're still in it. We're still in it 'til we're not in it," Corbin said. "You know, you've got to keep fighting. It (Monday) is just one game. It's a disappointing loss. The last two games have been disappointing losses. But, you know, we've to continue to fight. We can't quit until we're out of it. So, we're gonna keep fighting and try to fix some things in practice and see where we go from there."
That said, the Jazz's schedule the rest of the way is one of the most brutal in the NBA.
They close out a three-game road trip Wednesday night at Oklahoma City, then complete a four-games-in-five-nights stretch Thursday at home against New Orleans. In all, nine of the Jazz's remaining 11 games are against the top seven teams from the West -- including two against New Orleans, two against the Los Angeles Lakers, and one each against Oklahoma City, Dallas, Portland, San Antonio and Denver.
"It is what it is," Corbin said of the schedule.
And that is why the Jazz's last two outings -- a two-point loss at Houston followed by a disappointing defeat at Memphis -- come with some extra sting.
"Being able to get the tiebreaker, and for us to be able to move a whole game up, you would think that we'd be able to play," starting shooting guard C.J. Miles said after going 1-for-8 from the field against the Grizzlies. "(But) they played better as a whole. I, myself, had a rough night for me. I wish I could have played better -- especially in a game like this, which makes it even worse."
GRIZZLIES 103, JAZZ 85: Utah's playoff aspirations took a big blow Monday night at Memphis, where Zach Randolph had a 19-point, 13-rebound double-double and the Grizzlies used 66 points in the paint to hand the Jazz their fourth straight road loss. After losing starting point guard Devin Harris to a hamstring strain in the early going, Utah (36-35) dished only 20 assists (Memphis had 33) and committed 19 turnovers (the Grizzlies were charged with just nine). No one scored more points for the Jazz than power forward Paul Millsap, who wound up with only 15. Utah did get to within eight points in the fourth quarter after trailing by 15 at the end of three quarters, but Memphis went on a 15-3 run to push its lead to a game-high 20 points.
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