AUBURN HILLS, Mich. Jazz coach Jerry Sloan again thought his club's start was "sluggish."
But the finish was far from it, and for that he can thank one ex-Piston, one healing point guard and one shooter who could hardly hit a shot until it mattered most.
Former Detroit big man Mehmet Okur had 26 points and 12 rebounds, point guard Deron Williams scored a team- and season-high 29 points and backup shooting guard Kyle Korver hit a critical 3-pointer as the Jazz beat the Pistons 120-114 in double overtime Friday night at The Palace of Auburn Hills.
Korver's 3-pointer with 41.3 seconds left in the second five-minute overtime session gave Utah a 116-112 lead, and the 17-11 Jazz sealed it from there with two free throws each by Andrei Kirilenko and Paul Millsap.
"I was so ecstatic," Williams said of Korver hitting his last of three trey tries. "I didn't know if I had another overtime in me."
Williams logged 46 minutes while two teammates logged career highs in playing time, with Millsap going 51 minutes and Okur 48.
That was topped only by Detroit's Allen Iverson, who went a whopping 54 minutes and scored a game-high/season-high 38 points.
"They hit some tough shots at the end; we made some tough shots," said Okur, who played for an NBA-title winner while with Detroit. "It was a long game."
"It was intense out there," added Millsap, who for a 15th straight time started in place of injured power forward Carlos Boozer and who would up with 24 points and 13 rebounds. "It was fun to be a part of it."
Millsap who finished despite jamming his shoulder when he got fouled early on by Rasheed Wallace didn't get his 14th straight double-double until the second overtime, which was forced when Williams hit a jumper with 25.6 seconds to go in the first to make it 106-106.
Williams also hit a huge jumper with 2.3 seconds left in regulation to put the Jazz up 98-96, which Detroit's Rip Hamilton coolly answered from the left corner to prompt the first OT.
Williams drove, stopped, turned and drilled a 17-footer over Rodney Stuckey for what he thought would be the game-winner.
"I couldn't hit that shot two weeks ago," he said.
Then, the Jazz point guard still was ailing because of the left ankle he sprained in the preseason. Now, he's looking much more like he did pre-sprain.
"He was a lot quicker with the basketball," said Jazz coach Jerry Sloan, whose club continues a five-game trip tonight in Chicago. "He was able to get on top of the basket."
"He was back (Friday)," Korver added after Utah won its seventh straight over Detroit. "We'll see how fresh he is (tonight)."
Four Pistons fouled out of the game. Wallace late in the first overtime, then Hamilton and Stuckey early in the second. Antonio McDyess was the final player to sit with six personal fouls.
The Jazz will, and when they do it will be with Williams feeling awfully good about a lot.
"After that last half of the New Jersey game, my confidence is up," said Williams, who helped Utah rally from 22 down in the first quarter to beat the Nets on Wednesday.
"My ankle feels a lot better," added Williams, who did get a bit roughed up while this time helping the Jazz come back from being seven down in the fourth quarter.
Physical woes in this one included a collision with teammate C.J. Miles, who chipped a tooth on one of Williams'.
"The right side of my body now is hurting," Williams said, "but I feel much better. More explosive. I feel like I'm working my way back to my normal self."
Also feeling great Friday was Korver, who was "1-for-something" from the field actually 1-for-7 when he drained his huge trey.
"Had to make up for it," Korver said. "I made some bad mistakes. I had a bad turnover in the backcourt, I got stripped on the baseline down on the other end. ... (Hamilton) hit the shot at the end; I was guarding him. You know, I wasn't feeling very good at the moment.
"I wasn't exactly shooting the ball very well," he added. "But I just kept telling myself, 'There's going to be a big one; be ready to take it."'
He was, so the Jazz head to Chicago feeling much better than when they opened their trip with Monday's loss at Boston.32 comments on this story
"We've just got to keep playing like this," Williams said. "Our energy is different. We're helping each other. We're executing."You know," he added, "we're getting the shots we want to get and making plays down the stretch, which is the most promising, because that's something we haven't been doing the last couple weeks."