Unfortunately for Detroit, their final game against the Utah Jazz was strikingly similar to their first meeting. The Pistons came out the gates swinging and built a double digit lead in the first half. They then went ice cold in the second half, finding themselves in a dog fight against one of the league’s best defenses. It ended with Donovan Mitchell carrying his team to the finish line in the fourth quarter, as the Jazz outscored Detroit 25-20 in the fourth quarter to eventually win 106-100.
Here’s how it happened...
Thanks to some early hot shooting by Reggie Bullock, and a much needed injection shot from Ish Smith, who played for the first time in over a month after suffering a groin injury, the Pistons built that double digit lead early in the second quarter. Bullock finished with 13 points, shooting 4/4 in the first quarter - he then went on to shoot just two more field goal attempts for the rest of the game. Kennard also started off cooking as he shot 3/4 in the second quarter, and only shot and made one more field goal attempt in the second half. He finished with ten points and five rebounds.
The Pistons inability to find their two best shooters, Bullock and Kennard, was a major reason why their offense eventually stalled in the second half.
Utah climbed back early in the third quarter, recapturing the lead. They were lead by Donovan Mitchell, who finished with 28 points on 9/21 shooting, and Rudy Gobert who chipped in 18 points and 24 boards. Kyle Korver also found his range, hitting 5/11 from deep, scoring 19 points in the process.
Utah smashed Detroit in the free throw contest, knocking down 26 of their 36 attempts, compared to Detroit’s 13 points off 16 attempts.
And while Utah may have (definitely) benefited from a favorable whistle, the Pistons’ inability to piece together anything that could resemble an NBA offense in the second half doomed them once again. The Pistons only managed to score 35 points in the second half, after putting up an impressive 59 points in the first half. And while some of Detroit’s struggles could be attributed to Utah’s defense on Blake Griffin, shooting 11/36 as a team from deep certainly didn’t help their cause.
Griffin tried his best to will another win for the boys in black, but a late turnover, when Detroit had the ball down three in the final two minutes, eventually ended that campaign. Griffin scored 19 points on 17 shots, and was clearly frustrated with the officiating throughout the game and after the final whistle.
Detroit ends their west coast road trip with a 1-3 record, they now sit at 10th in the Eastern Conference with two very important games coming up - hosting the 9th place Orlando Magic on Wednesday and the 6th place Miami Heat on Friday.