In each of their last five games, in which they’ve won all of them, it can be said that the Jazz handled their opponents, enjoying double-digit leads throughout the game. Tuesday night against Detroit was much of the same, en route to a 110-79 victory over the Pistons.
Utah came into the game on a six game win streak, just two weeks removed from having won 11-games-in-a-row, and victorious in 18 of their last 20. People weren’t necessarily expecting a nail-biter overtime game like their previous matchup with Detroit in January, and they certainly didn’t get one.
The first quarter alone was ridiculous, in an extremely great way for the Jazz. Utah put up 42 points in the first 12 minutes, shooting 81% and going 17-21 from the field.
“I thought we came out in the right frame of mind,” said coach Quin Snyder. “Paying attention to detail on the defensive end, and when you do that, you become instinctive offensively.”
Defense has been the cornerstone of Utah’s now 38-30 record. Tuesday marked the 8th time in the last 9 games where the Jazz have allowed less than 100 points. Against the Pistons, the Jazz defense shined as bright as it has all year, suffocating Detroit and allowing the Pistons to shoot 37% from the field, giving up just 79 points, and forcing 17 turnovers.
Donovan Mitchell, who has been so important to the Jazz success and win streak, didn’t even need to do much, with just six points near the end of the third quarter. On Sunday in New Orleans, the duo of Mitchell and Ricky Rubio combined for 57 points. On Tuesday, the two totaled 17 points for the two of them, and Utah still won by 31 points.
Even before halftime, the Pistons looked lifeless. Even Blake Griffin, the man who everyone expected would propel Detroit into an elite Eastern team struggled. Griffin shot 5-16 from the field, and committed five turnovers.
It wasn’t Mitchell who stole the show, nor Ricky Rubio, who totaled just 4 points. The unique thing about the Jazz is that not just one player has to steal the show. Rudy Gobert led Utah with 22 points to go along with his 12 rebounds, Jae Crowder scored 14 off the bench, and fellow role player Jonas Jerebko added 16 points against his former team.
“It just gets better and better, the longer the season goes, the more time we play together,” Jerebko said after the game when asked if this was the best this team has played all year. “We’re clicking right now and we’re just going to keep building.”
An uneventful second half of the game dragged on, as if Jazz fans just wanted Thursday’s matchup against the Suns to be here already. The most noteworthy stat of the second half was Mitchell, in the fourth period, passing Allen Iverson for 6th on the all-time Rookie three pointers list.
With the victory, the Jazz obviously continue to roll, and what makes it even better is Utah’s remaining schedule. The Jazz next three games will also be in Salt Lake City against bottom tier teams, the Suns, Kings and the Hawks.