After a shocking Game 1 loss at home, the Utah Jazz have bounced back to win three straight over the Memphis Grizzlies and take a 3-1 lead in their first round series. Game 4 on Monday night followed a similar pattern to the last two games, as the Jazz led for the most of the night, but had to hold off a furious Grizzlies comeback before eventually securing a 120-113 win.
Donovan Mitchell led the way with 30 points and eight assists, Jordan Clarkson came off the bench to drop 24 points and Rudy Gobert put up 17 points and eight assists. But while those usual suspects put up their numbers, the real hero for the Jazz in Game 4 only scored 11 points: Mike Conley.
With a clutch sequence late in the fourth quarter, Conley saved the Jazz from another playoff collapse. And in the process, the longtime Grizzlies point guard broke the hearts of the Memphis fans who had adored him for so many years. The FedEx Forum used to come alive when Conley made plays on the defensive end and hit big shots; on Monday night it fell silent.
Coming into the fourth quarter, the Jazz led by 13, and appeared to be well on their way to victory. A few minutes later, after they had missed their first nine shots of the frame, and De’Anthony Melton caught fire, they were clinging to a two-point lead. That’s when Conley stepped up.
As Mitchell controlled up top, Conley came up to set a halfhearted screen before continuing his cut across the court. Then he spotted up while Mitchell ran a pick-and-roll with Gobert. Mitchell saw multiple Grizzlies defenders as he came off the screen, so he kicked the ball out to Conley. The veteran point guard made a quick decision with the shot clock winding down, and drilled a crucial step-back 3-pointer in Melton’s face.
That was the first made basket of the quarter for the Jazz, and pushed their lead back up to five points at 109-104. There was still plenty of time left, but given the situation and how much the Jazz were struggling on the offensive end, it was the biggest shot of the game. Or, it was until Conley hit another huge 3 a few possessions later.
At this point, the Jazz were up four, but the Grizzlies had the ball and a chance to make it a one-score game. Conley wasn’t about to let that happen. Ja Morant tried to drive into the lane, but Conley picked his pocket and went the other way. Then he used up almost the entire shot clock and knocked down a pull-up triple to put the Jazz up by seven at 113-106.
The Grizzlies didn’t get closer than that until the waning seconds, when the game was already decided. If you just scanned the box score from this game, you’d hardly notice Conley’s 11 points and seven assists. But the Jazz don’t win without his steady presence and massive plays down the stretch.
With those shots and that steal, Conley made sure the Jazz are going back home to Salt Lake City for Game 5 up 3-1 instead of tied 2-2. Now, they’re just one win away from advancing to the second round for the first time since 2018, and ending a run of three straight first-round exits.