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Utah Jazz-Detroit Pistons: Instant Analysis

By David Smith

For the Deseret News

Published: Monday, March 12 2012 10:22 p.m. MDT

Detroit Pistons center Greg Monroe, right, drives while defended by Utah Jazz center Al Jefferson during the first half of an NBA basketball game Monday March 12, 2012, in Salt Lake City.

Jim Urquhart, Associated Press

Home, sweet home. After a long road trip that finished in a pair of tough losses, EnergySolutions Arena was a welcome sight for the weary Utah Jazz. This was evidenced by Utah’s 105-90 victory over the visiting Detroit Pistons Monday.

While it was a close affair until late in the game, Utah made most of the fourth quarter. Down by two at the start, Tyrone Corbin’s squad outscored the Pistons 30-13 in the final 12 minutes.

Big game by Big Al: In a gutsy, emotional performance, Al Jefferson had another dominant game for the Utah Jazz. Grieving the loss of his grandmother, the center came through Monday night with 33 points, 12 rebounds, and a pair of blocked shots. But what was most impressive was the way he did it, using a variety of smooth interior moves and soft jump shots. Going against second-year standout Greg Monroe — already one of the league’s best centers — Al was able to have his way offensively.

Jefferson was particularly potent in the fourth quarter, scoring 13 points, including a streak of 10 straight going down the stretch. He was also able to connect on the first 3-pointer of his career. An inspiring game for a heavy-hearted Al Jefferson.

Raja’s Return: After a well-publicized few days, Utah head coach Tyrone Corbin and veteran Raja Bell met with general manager Kevin O’Connor earlier in the day. By most accounts, the two made amends for a tumultuous weekend that resulted in Bell being dismissed from the Jazz’s last leg of their weeklong road trip.

Unfortunately, Bell did not have a great outing in his return, managing just one point and four rebounds in 27 minutes. He struggled all evening and seemed to be bothered by his nagging leg injury.

Backcourt bounce backs: After some recent struggles, a pair of Utah guards had some much-needed bounce back efforts. Devin Harris, who missed Saturday’s bout with Chicago, had only scored 28 points in his previous three games. The point guard came back with one of his best outings of the season. His 19 points, eight assists, and two steals were huge. He was able to get to the free-throw line (9 of 10) and his two treys came at crucial junctures.

In the past four games, reserve C.J. Miles had only made 3 of 22 field goals, tallying just 12 points. His easily eclipsed that total Monday with 15 points on 5 of 7 shooting — including three integral 3-pointers. He played with a lot more energy and his shots came within the Jazz's offensive schemes.

Random thoughts:

  • With Thursday’s trade deadline looming, Monday could have been the final game for any Jazz players involved in any potential deals.
  • Detroit guard Rodney Stuckey had a great game, scoring 29 points and dishing seven assists in a losing cause. He too was able to get to the free-throw line and was physically imposing for Utah’s point guards.
  • Bell still has not made any 3-pointers since coming back from his recent injury.
  • The four Utah youngsters — Gordon Hayward, Derrick Favors, Enes Kanter, and Alec Burks — entered the contest averaging a combined 73.7 minutes per game. They totaled just 47 against the Pistons, including a “Did Not Play—Coach’s Decision” for Burks.
  • Detroit rookie guard Brandon Knight had 11 points, but shot a mere 4 of 12 from the field.

David Smith is providing instant analysis for Deseret News' Utah Jazz coverage this season. He works for LDS Philanthropies and also blogs for the Utah Jazz 360 website. He can be reached at mechakucha1@gmail.com or on Twitter at davidjsmith1232.

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