The Utah Jazz (0-1) lost to the Detroit Pistons (2-0) in a close game where both teams attempted to assert control, only for the home crowd to enjoy a 92-87 victory. The first quarter was slow and defensive oriented as both squads tried out new starting line-ups. Quin Snyder went with , , , , and Rudy Gobert. Stan Van Gundy countered with , , , , and Andre Drummond. It was a traditional two bigs going up against a big and a stretch.
And early on Ilyasova looked like he was on his way to a "Jazz killer" night by scoring all of Detroit's points early. Raul Neto was conducting things for the Jazz, and even in the first quarter when he was spelled bythe team was still trying to set up Favors and Gobert. The passing for the Jazz was infectious at times, while the Pistons were surviving on getting second shots near the basket, or free throws. The free throws are going to be something to bring up a bit later, but hey, sometimes when you're on the road you don't get the calls.
The Jazz broke the game open in the second by just out grinding the Pistons, and took a 29-25 quarter win and turned that into a 3 point halftime lead. Rodney Hood was cooking Detroit with his passing, driving, and scoring. He was needed because Gordon Hayward, two charges in the first half, was off of his game. Furthermore, the Jazz guards were incapable of getting the ball in to Rudy -- Detroit has defensive length as well. But a main point was the inability of anyone to stop Reggie Jackson or. I will point out that Raul Neto got hurt and had the leave the game in the 2nd quarter.
The battle between Stanely Johnson andwas predictable, but we saw some good things from Trey in the first half.
The second half saw the Pistons dominate, and win 28-20, leading up to 5 point lead going into the fourth. But in that quarter the Jazz didn't play their game, started to play isolation a little more, and got sloppy. The fourth saw the Jazz slowly chip away untilwent into "take over" mode. He was getting freed up and getting whatever he wanted. On consecutive stops he scored twice, and performed a dribble hand-off to Hayward (and screend Hayward's man) that allowed Gordon to get an open lane layup. That move by Gordon put the Jazz up ahead with 20 seconds (or so) remaining.
Utah, being forced to close the game out with Alec - Rodney - Gordon - Derrick - Rudy allowed Reggie Jackson to score too quickly to put Detroit up again. After a Quin Snyder timeout something horrible happened. Either this was a decision to go for a quick score, or a brain fart, but Alec Burks got the in-bounds and took a tough shot instead of driving to the rim. He missed, the Pistons got the rebound, and it was a free throw shooting game while the Jazz were incapable of making the difference from distance.
There were some flaws to this game beyond the early shot by Burks. And to defend him a bit, he had a 'hot hand' which matters to scorers, and he was getting cheated out of FTA all game long, so maybe going to the rim would have ended up with nothing to show for it as the refs swallow their whistles. Still, I don't think he should have done that, or that Gordon Hayward shouldn't have been left out of the final play.
One big flaw was going away from Favors (10-15 FG, finished with 26 points, was dominant at times). The second big flaw was on defense, either giving up way too easy baskets to Marcus Morris or Reggie Jackson all night long. The third, and this could be a problem all season long, was from deep. The team went 2/12, with those two makes coming from Raul Neto. Yikes.
Overall, this was a winnable game. It should have been a Jazz win. It wasn't. The team is going to have to lean on the Alec / Rodney / Gordon perimeter lineup this season. Those three guys shot a combined 17 for 40, which is only 42.5 FG%. Their 40 shots were 53% of all the FGA for the team tonight. They scored a combined 43 points, which is only 49% of the team's total points. So you see there's a volume issue here.
To their credit, all three of them did good things as well. Hayward had a tough game, wasn't getting 'star calls', but still pulled himself up to put the Jazz up with seconds to go. Hood had an all-around game with 6 assists and 4 rebounds, showing confidence in face of challenges. Alec was on the floor with the least amount of help, and turned his game into a weapon, drawing 7 FTA and making 6, while also pulling down 6 boards and defeating all the defenses set up to stop him for a stretch in the fourth. It wasn't all roses either. Hayward had 4 turn overs. Hood went 0-7 from deep. And again, Alec had a chance to win the game but took a shot none of us wanted him to take, and missed. (Maybe it was the wrong Burk in the game, should have put in Trey Burke for the game winner?)
The player of the game was Derrick, but he's going to need some more help. The only other bench player to score tonight was Joe Ingles. And well, that's not good enough.
Utah lost tonight, but have two more games to play. Tomorrow is an off-night, then there's a back-to-back set against the Philadelphia 76ers and Indiana Pacers to finish up this three games in four nights season opening road trip.
Also, the Jazz win this game if this goes in: