Jazz aim for road-trip sweep as they face Grizzlies
One of the hottest teams in the NBA gets a rare opportunity to sweep a four-game trip when the Utah Jazz visit Memphis, Tenn., to take on the Grizzlies on Wednesday night.
The Jazz have won six in a row, including games at Phoenix, San Antonio and New Orleans to begin their current four-game trip.
Counting a 129-99 blowout of Golden State in their most recent home game, the Jazz have won their last four contests by a total of 95 points.
In the Grizzlies, Utah will be seeing a struggling team playing the second night of a back-to-back. Memphis' 108-82 blowout loss at Atlanta on Tuesday night completed an 0-4 trip to Indiana, Detroit and Toronto before Atlanta.
The losses to the Raptors and Hawks were by a total of 41 points.
Everything is going right for the Jazz, who got key reserve Rodney Hood back from a six-game absence for Saturday's win at San Antonio.
Hood exploded for 30 points in 27 minutes in Monday's 133-109 win at New Orleans.
"It's a process," Utah coach Quin Snyder said of a 19-28 club suddenly becoming a playoff contender at 25-28. "We've gotten healthy, and guys are playing well, and they are playing for each other. The ball is moving offensively and guys are finding each other."
That starts with point guard Ricky Rubio, who has recorded three double-doubles during the six-game winning streak. Not known as a big scorer, he's topped 20 points in three of his last four outings, highlighted by a season-high 34 points against the Spurs.
The Jazz have scored 120 or more points in four straight games.
As brilliant as the offense has been of late, the defense hasn't been far behind. That unit has been led by center Rudy Gobert, who has totaled 25 blocked shots in nine games since returning from a bruised knee.
Defense figures to be critical when the Jazz and Grizzlies get together. The losing team has been held to fewer than 100 points in 30 consecutive meetings dating back to 2008.
A notoriously bad road team that began the season 0-6 and 3-17 away from home, Utah has rebounded to win seven of its last nine on the road, including five in a row.
The Jazz hasn't had a six-game road winning streak since November of 2010. That's also the last time the team swept a four-game trip, winning at Miami, Orlando, Atlanta and Charlotte.
The Jazz and Grizzlies are meeting for the first time this season. Memphis has held the upper hand in the rivalry in recent years, taking 13 of the last 19 games.
The Grizzlies had won five of eight before deciding to shelf leading scorer Tyreke Evans pending a possible trade at Thursday's deadline.
Evans, who has been bothered of late by a sore left arm, scored 27 points in his most recent action, Memphis' 120-109 victory over Phoenix in their most recent home game Jan. 29.
"He's been a great professional for us," Grizzlies interim coach J.B. Bickerstaff praised of Evans. "He wanted to fight with this group. He didn't ask to be put in this situation. He's a mature guy, so he understands it. But he didn't want to be absent from the group."
Rookie Ivan Rabb recorded his first career double-double with 10 points and a season-best 11 rebounds in Tuesday's loss at Atlanta.
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