Strong offense not enough for Jazz

By Wright Wilson

Deseret News

Published: Saturday, Feb. 26 2011 11:57 p.m. MST

AUBURN HILLS, MICH. — Plenty of factors seemed to be working well for the Jazz on Saturday night. The team shot 68 percent from the floor in the first quarter, and they nearly kept up that level for the rest of the game. All five starters had scored in double figures before the third quarter was over. The Jazz held a seven-point lead with eight minutes to play.

But still, the undermanned Detroit Pistons found a way to pull out a victory on their home court, 120-116.

Midway through the fourth, the Pistons erased a 95-88 deficit quickly with a 12-0 run that took just a little less than two minutes.

Rodney Stuckey and Austin Daye hit 3-pointers, book-ending a slam from Ben Gordon, and it seemed that the Jazz could never regain control from that point.

"They made shots tonight, our rotations were a little bit slow tonight, but they shot a good percentage from the 3-point line (64.7) and guys were stepping up and making them,"?Utah coach Tyrone Corbin said.

"We were a little slow on (defending) those," added Paul Millsap, who led the Jazz with 23 points and 11 rebounds. "Somebody has to get out there and contest the shot. But if they hit that shot, then it's their game in a crucial time of the game."?

The game was tied 20 times and featured 17 lead changes, but the Pistons squelched any late comeback hopes the Jazz had by sinking 11-of-12 free-throw attempts over the final 2:41.

While it was the first time this season the Jazz have lost on the road when scoring 110 points or more, the winning total of 120 is the most points the Pistons have scored in any game this year.

"We played, actually, a great game," Millsap said. "We just didn't do what we needed to do to get over the hump."?

"The team is coming around," Corbin added. "We are doing some things well; we just aren't doing them well enough to win the ball games right now. I think the guys are playing hard, though, and they are trying hard to pay attention and get the execution down offensively, and we were doing a pretty good job of that.

"Defensively we are still struggling out there in spurts, but we just have to hang in there and continue to work hard and hopefully figure it out."?

Besides Millsap's 23 points, Andrei Kirilenko had 21 and Al Jefferson added 20. New acquisitions Devin Harris (17 points) and Derrick Favors (10 points in 15 minutes off the bench) contributed as well.

However, the Jazz failed to harness the momentum they showed Friday night at Indiana, when they got Corbin his first win after five games as the Jazz's head man.

"I think consistency will be the key for us," Millsap said. "We've got to be consistent. After coming off that game (Friday) night, it means we have to work a little harder. We've got to do a better job of taking care of business, just getting it done. I'm not making any excuses; it's just getting it done."?

The 32-28 Jazz, who have lost seven of their last 10 games, fell to ninth in the Western Conference standings, a game behind surging Memphis for the final playoff spot.

"It's a game we needed," Millsap said.

Perhaps the 22-39 Pistons needed it more. The victory follows an ugly loss to Philadelphia on Friday night in which just six of the team's players got into the game. The rest were either injured or benched by Coach John Kuester after missing a Friday morning shootaround. And Kuester was ejected from that contest.

GAME NOTES: This was just the third loss in 25 games where Utah has led going into the fourth quarter. The Jazz were up 84-83 with 12 minutes to play. ... Kirilenko didn't miss a shot in the first half, going 6-for-6 from the floor and making both free throws for 14 points before the break. He had two dunks on the Jazz's first two trips up the court. ... The Jazz have won only two of 14 games when giving up 110 or more points this season.

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