Last night the Utah Jazz defeated the Detroit Pistons 88-85. It wasn't the prettiest game, but it was a game where the Jazz had to overcome the feral, tired, injured, and desperate Pistons. They didn't want to lose 10 in a row, but Utah took that option away from them. (Game Preview, Opponent Scouting, Game Thread, Game Recap)
Unlike the last few games, this was a game of runs. The Jazz would go on a 5-0, the Pistons would fight back with another one, and so forth.
The biggest runs of the game tilt in the Jazz' favor though (18-6 run, 9-0 run, 6-1 run, vs. 11-1 run, 10-2 run, 5-0 run). But for the majority of the game the Jazz could not approach escape velocity to get out of orbit of the Pistons. The most Utah was down was by 6 points, and the most they were up was only 9. The average lead in this game was only 2.48 points, which is kinda funny because one of the Detroit Metro area codes was (248). (As opposed to 313, and 586 -- the other two). Anyway, it should come as no surprise that the Jazz runs occurred when their starters were in the game (regarldess of who they were up against). Gordon Hayward makes things happen on offense, Rudy Gobert makes things happen on defense, and Derrick Favors just plain makes things happen. Bereft of those three guys the team struggles to make ends meet. The runs Detroit went one were almost, without fail, against the Jazz bench. There was on exception -- and that was right after halftime, and that was only a 5-0 run.
Quin Synder has been much better at avoiding the "hockey shift" lineups where entire sides are replaced with fresh players. Some of that is by design, some of that is a product of all the injuries this team has had. We're seeing Rudy Gobert stay in longer as a defensive anchor, and he seems to have supplanted Gordon Hayward as the requisite starter surrounded by bench guys. This is a shift in what this team wants to do. It's no longer worried about offense (which is why the other team goes on runs, as the Jazz can't buy a bucket), they'd rather focus on stopping the other team from scoring that counts.
And frankly, that's the smart play when the Jazz are able to control the glass and thus, control the tempo of the game. Last night's game only had a pace of 85.4 possessions. That's much closer to where the Jazz have played in the last 10 games vs. where the Pistons have played in their last 10 (mid 90s). While Utah couldn't keep Detroit off the glass all night long (they had a 31.4 ORB%, which is very high), the pace of play favored Utah and their strangling defense (DRTG of 99.5 last night).
Utah forces the other team to play mistake free, highly efficient offense in order to win. Most NBA teams can't do that. Last night Detroit proved that point even if they busted out for 30 in the fourth quarter.
Still can't embed videos from NBA.com, so you can watch their video at their site here, or just view this YT upload:
This guy is so wrong, the head injury happened in the first half, and he didn't even play a second in the second half. But whatever . . . and yes, glad someone else recognizes that Trey Burke makes big shots in March.
G-Time throws it down!
Box Score Heroes:
Quin Snyder only went 9 deep in this game.
This is a very funny distribution. Favors scores 26, but has only 1 rebound. Gobert gets 19. Gordon takes only 8 shots in the game, while shooting 50%, Trey takes 6 shots, also while shooting 50%. Hood takes 10 shots, while shooting 50%. Booker takes 6 shots, while shooting 50%. When it's a low pace game when your offense is treading water, you need to have guys make their shots. For the most part the Jazz did that (47.8 fg%, 42.9 3pt%, of course, 66.7 ft% while dropping 8 points there, including two in the finals seconds of a three point win).
Utah doesn't win this game without defense and hustle. So you obviously have to thank Rudy, Derrick, Dante, Trevor, and Rodney here. Their combination of length, energy, and activity gave the Jazz a chance to hold on for this win. In the late fourth it was guys like Gordon and Trey making moves on offense (Gordon one on one, Gordon cut for the dunk, Trey pick and roll to Fav, Trey floater for the win). But you don't get to those glory moments with all the guys the other guys had to spill earlier in the game.
I expected a win last night. I didn't expect it to be this difficult to secure. It's a good lesson for the Jazz. For even MORE coverage of this game, including quotes, gifs, and fan reactions visit Moni's site JazzFanatical.Wordpress.com. No one does it better than Moni.