At the 2:48 mark of the second quarter, a Mike Conley free throw put Utah up 69-41 on the Detroit Pistons, a 28-point lead. That advantage would stay as high as 27 late in the third. But with 2:06 left in the game, Pistons’ wing Jerami Grant made the second of two free throws to set the game at 109-105 to cap a 9-1 Detroit run and cut a once nearly 30-point lead down to a mere four-point advantage and technically a one-possession game.
Utah entered the fourth quarter with a 94-77 advantage, but Detroit outscored Utah 28 to 15 through 10 minutes of the final frame. Grant scored nine of his 27 points during that span to get the Pistons back in the game.
In so short a time, a nearly assured blowout victory became a fight for survival, the Jazz hardly willing to accept back-to-back losses so soon after winning 11 straight in January, but within spitting distance of blowing a nearly 30-point third-quarter lead. Utah had to stop the bleeding from the 9-1 run and Bojan Bogdanovic stepped up to the plate with two 3-pointers in under 40 seconds, giving the Jazz back their double-digit cushion.
Along with the quick-hit 3-point shooting from Bogey, the Jazz locked down on defense, not allowing a single point in the final 126 seconds of the game, forcing the Pistons to go 0-of-4 from the field with one turnover. Those two things combined gave Utah a 117-105 win on Tuesday.
The game hearkened back to the previous matchup between these two sides. In what would become the second win in Utah’s eventual 11-game streak, Detroit cut a 19-point Jazz lead down to six and a later 11-point advantage down to five. Utah’s abysmal 17-point third quarter that night elicited this reaction from head coach Quin Snyder.
According to Mike Conley, who was asked about this moment after the game, a frustrated Snyder essential told his then-offensively challenged squad that X’s and O’s weren’t going to fix their issues, but rather the team’s mindset.
Snyder may have had similar feelings during a timeout with 3:14 left in the game, called by Quin after Detroit cut his team’s lead to 108-101.
Despite nearly blowing big leads in both games, Utah is 2-0 this season against Detroit and have won 10 consecutive overall versus them dating back to 2017. The last time the Pistons defeated the Jazz was on Jan. 25, 2016.
Pretty easy decision. Mitchell crossed the 30-point threshold for the fourth time this season, getting there in just three quarters and netting 32 total. He didn't rack up as many assists as he typically does, dishing out just one , his lowest total since last March, but he did reel in six boards, had just one turnover and his +23 plus/minus was second on the team only to Bogdanovic’s +24.
One might argue that Mitchell’s mere two-points in a nearly disastrous fourth quarter detracts from the overall performance, but his efforts in the first three quarters were a main reason Utah had such a large lead to nearly blow anyway.
It’s worth noting that Mitchell also had a standout game in Utah’s previous matchup, scoring a team-high 28 points along with three assists, two rebounds and a block in the early January road win.
Aside from Mitchell, Utah’s standout performers were mostly some of the usual suspects. Bogdanovic had 18 points, Conley had 20 along with five assists and four rebounds. Rudy Gobert had a rare down night, scoring just nine points and grabbing seven rebounds with his matchup on the night, Mason Plumlee ending the night with a 17/14 line.
Royce O’Neale scored 12 points, only slightly above-average by his standards, but he reeled in a career-high-tying 13 rebounds to record his second double-double of the season and sixth of his career.