Grizzlies’ Ja Morant (illness) might miss game at Utah

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Though the Grizzlies were able to rest Friday while the Utah Jazz were dropping a road game in Denver, Memphis’ advantage ahead of a Saturday night game in Salt Lake CIty might be negated because of a health situation.

Ja Morant, who is averaging 32.6 points and 6.8 assists, might not play against the Jazz. He is listed as doubtful because of a non-COVID illness.

The status of Memphis’ John Konchar also is uncertain due to shoulder soreness. The guard is questionable after having missed the Grizzlies’ 125-110 road win over the Sacramento Kings on Thursday.

If it comes as any consolation to the Grizzlies, Desmond Bane is on a tear entering Memphis’ two-game set in Utah. The teams will clash again in Salt Lake City on Monday.

Bane drained six 3-pointers en route to 31 points against the Kings after scoring 38 points in a 134-124 win over the Brooklyn Nets on Monday.

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The shooting guard hit just 13 of 49 shots (26.5 percent) in the Grizzlies’ first three games. Over the past two outings, he has gone 25-for-49 (51 percent).

“Great two-game performance. He’s been playing great all season,” Memphis coach Taylor Jenkins said. “I think his defense was really good as well. … When he’s in that zone, he’s hard to stop.”

Bane added, “Shots are falling. Early on, I was getting similar looks, and now I kind of got my legs under me and (now) they’re falling.”

Shots fell like bricks for the Jazz in their second loss of the season on Friday, a 117-101 setback against the Nuggets. Utah only hit 10 of 39 3-point attempts (25.6 percent), with Jordan Clarkson missing all seven of his long-range shots and Talen Horton-Tucker going 0-for-5.

The Nuggets, meanwhile, shot 45.9 percent overall, including an identical shooting percentage from 3-point range (17-for-37). Bones Hyland made as many treys as Clarkson missed, shooting 7-for-12 from deep.

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“I thought for the most part we got good 3-point looks,” Jazz coach Will Hardy said. “J.C. going 0-for-7 is definitely an anomaly. I thought he took good ones.”

Friday’s game was a 180-degree turnaround from the Jazz’s season opener against Denver, when Utah surprised the visiting Nuggets with a 123-102 victory. The new-look Jazz shot 50.6 percent overall and hit 16 of 38 3-point tries (42.1 percent) in the blowout win.

On Friday, Utah jumped ahead 12-6 lead behind four 3-pointers, the last two from Lauri Markkanen. Denver then used a 25-5 surge to move in front for good.

Collin Sexton played on Friday after sitting out the second half of the Jazz’s Wednesday win over Houston because of an oblique injury. He finished with 13 points against the Nuggets.

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Sexton had an exchange with Hardy during the Denver game but told reporters he was being hard on himself about a foul called against him. Hardy, he added, simply told him to remain engaged.

“It wasn’t him coming at me or me going back at him,” Sexton said. “I was just so mad about the foul.”

The Jazz were without Rudy Gay and Simone Fontecchio due to the COVID-19 protocol, while Walker Kessler missed the contest with a different illness.

The Saturday contest will be the first meeting of the year for Memphis and Utah. The Grizzlies, who will continue a four-game Western trip on Saturday, won the 2021-22 season series 2-1 after the Jazz won the clubs’ six prior matchups.

–Field Level Media

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