When Utah and Memphis met last year in the opening round of the playoffs, fast and physical is how the series was best described. From numerous technical fouls to both teams averaging over 115 points per game, it was a first round series for the ages.

Thanks to a sensational five games from Donovan Mitchell, the Jazz went on to win 4-1.

Nearly six months to the date of the first game from that series, and it’s clear that not much has changed between the two teams.

In another physical and high-scoring affair, albeit one with drama and fireworks in the end, Utah fell 119-118 to Memphis on Monday night.

“We let up as a team, and that’s when it went bad,” Mitchell said postgame. “We just can’t let up, that’s the biggest thing. We got to keep our foot on the gas.”

With Utah clinging to a two-point lead with 14.8 seconds left, Memphis’ Ja Morant missed his second free throw attempt. After the ball bounced around a few times and traded hands, Royce O’Neale came down with the rebound for the Jazz.

But a whistle by an official stopped the play, resulting in an officials replay to check for offensive goaltending on Memphis, which would’ve been Utah’s ball. After it was deemed an inadvertent whistle — no goaltending — a jump ball ensued at half court.

The Grizzlies won the jump ball, and Jaren Jackson Jr. knocked down a three-pointer on the following possession, putting the Jazz down one with 5.9 seconds to play.

With Joe Ingles inbounding, Mitchell got the ball near half court and drove hard to his right before pulling up for an off-balance fadeaway that barely missed, ending the game.

“Donovan has traditionally been that guy down the stretch,” head coach Quin Snyder said. “However you handle attacking a matchup, that’s something that we’ll continue to do and make those decisions. In this instance, we didn’t get as good of a look as we wanted. You want to be better at everything.”

The loss overshadowed what was a tremendous fourth quarter from Bojan Bogdanovic.

The forward finished with a team-high 24 points, 12 (4-for-5 from beyond the arc) in the fourth quarter. He also added three rebounds and three assists.

But even with Bogdanovic’s elite shooting, the Jazz couldn’t put away a pesky Grizzlies squad in the fourth quarter.

A Jackson three-pointer cut Utah’s lead to two with 7:21 to play, prompting a Snyder timeout. He drew up a great play on the ensuing possession, resulting in a Bogdanovic three-pointer, his first of two on consecutive possessions.

Memphis battled back to take a two-point lead following a Morant layup with 4:06 to go.

Once again, Bogdanovic and the Jazz came roaring back.

Mike Conley started things off with a layup to tie the score before Bgondanovic hit back-to-back three-pointers on consecutive possessions — including an impressive fadeaway from the corner — to give Utah a 118-112 lead with 1:28 to go.

“They were trying to hedge the pick-and-roll, so I was able to get a few open looks in one minute,” Bogdanovic said. “Then the floor kind of opens up for me, I hit that corner three. But it’s not about our offense. … It’s about our transition defense and defensive rebounds.”

It was all Memphis from there as Jackson and Morant combined for the game’s final seven points — which included three offensive rebounds.

“I think they (Memphis) made a few plays defensively, got in transition, and got to the free throw line,” Conley said. “At that point, it comes down to 14 seconds and they made the plays and we didn’t. That’s what it comes down to in a game like this.”

The first half was a back-and-forth affair like heavyweights trading blows. Each team led by at least five points in the opening quarter, but Utah led 30-27 after one.

Clinging to a one-point lead late in the second quarter, the Jazz went on a late 7-0 run to take a 60-54 lead at the half.

Utah extended its advantage to 10 early in the third quarter. But those pesky Grizzlies kept fighting, as the Jazz led by four entering the final 12 minutes.

Rudy Gobert was sensational again for Utah, finishing with 23 points, 13 rebounds, and five blocks. Not only was he great on the defensive end — as per the usual — he showcased an excellent array of offensive moves that gave Jackson and Steven Adams trouble.

Conley added 19 points, eight assists, and four rebounds, finishing with a team-high +13 rating. He was at his best with Gobert on the court, as their pick-and-roll offense continues to be among the league’s best and most efficient ways to score.

Donovan Mitchell added 18 points, eight assists, and six rebounds, while Hassan Whiteside finished with 12 points and six rebounds.

Morant finished with a game-high 32 points, adding seven assists and four rebounds. Desmond Bane added 28 points, while Jackson finished with 26 points and eight rebounds.

Utah hits the road again, this time taking on Oklahoma City on Wednesday night. Tipoff is set for 6 p.m. MST.


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