A huge second quarter and 15 first-half points from Enes Kanter helped the Utah Jazz to a 110-89 win over the Detroit Pistons Friday night in Detroit.
Kanter's 18 points, seven rebounds and two assists off the bench steadied the Jazz and helped neutralize the Pistons' pair of bigs, Andre Drummond and Greg Monroe.
The two teams were neck-and-neck in the first quarter, as Kentavious Caldwell-Pope and Rodney Stuckey led the Pistons and Marvin Williams, who was held scoreless Wednesday against San Antonio, answered with eight of the Jazz's first 10 points. Utah made five three-pointers in the opening frame but trailed 27-25.
Brandon Rush made two first-half three pointers and a jumper to keep the Jazz close before Kanter went to work against Drummond, scoring and drawing fouls while helping the Jazz hold the Pistons scoreless for the final three minutes of the first half.
Leading 58-45 to start the third quarter, the Jazz scored three quick buckets, off assists from Alec Burks and Trey Burke, to extend the lead. Burke, who had shot poorly in the first half, then warmed up, scoring nine third-quarter points and pushing the lead to 89-65.
From there, the Jazz coasted to a blowout victory as both teams emptied their benches.
Burke led the Jazz with 20 points and a career-high 12 assists, and Marvin Williams added 17. Rodney Stuckey paced the Pistons with 21 points and six rebounds off the bench.
- Big Turkey, baby. Not only did Enes Kanter help the Jazz to a big lead in the second quarter, he played excellent defense, holding Andre Drummond to 10 points (although he did have 13 rebounds) and Greg Monroe to just four points in only 16 minutes. Derrick Favors helped defensively, of course, and the two still didn't spend much time on the floor together (Favors only played 21 minutes). But Enes seemed to be brimming with confidence, even against a highly regarded young big man in Drummond.
- Trey Burke is starting to make a bit of a habit of starting games poorly. The positive thing is that he is getting better at pulling himself out of it, as he had another strong second half. The 12 assists is thrilling (although the seven turnovers were uncharacteristically high), and he harassed Brandon Jennings and KCP into poor performances. A very nice homecoming for the former Michigan Wolverine.
- IAN CLARK AND RUDY GOBERT PLAYED! Not very much, and they probably could have come in sooner -- the game was on ice by the fourth quarter -- but at least they saw the floor. And Clark did way more than that, scoring an instant seven points in the last five minutes. Garbage time, yes, but still fun to see.
- Alec Burks, coming off a superb previous three games, had only six points in 28 minutes. He did have five assists, however, and with other Jazz players stepping up, Burks scoring punch wasn't as needed. On defense, things didn't go well; Burks picked up two quick fouls and was banished to the bench in favor of Brandon Rush until halfway through the second quarter. It's clear that, despite Burks' recent offensive prowess, he's on a pretty short leash if he fouls too much or misses defensive assignments.
- Eighteen turnovers is too many against a team like the Pistons. Fortunately, they shot themselves out of the game and couldn't capitalize. But against better competition, those turnovers will doom this Jazz team.
- I'm not gonna nitpick to find a third negative. This was a pretty comprehensive performance from the Jazz; they were clearly the better team and deserved to win. Oh, and by the way: This is all without Gordon Hayward. Whodathunkit.
Next up: the Jazz head to Minneapolis for the first in a home-and-home with the Timberwolves.