AUBURN HILLS, Mich. — The Utah Jazz often talk about leaving tough losses behind them once they exit the locker room. It was clear, however, that Friday night's gut-wrenching defeat followed them 750 miles from Atlanta to Michigan on Saturday.
"I don't think no one even spoke until game time," Jazz guard Randy Foye said. "Everybody still had that sick feeling in their stomach that we gave the game away last night."
Conversation wasn't the only thing that was missing in the first half.
Midway through their game against the Detroit Pistons, the Jazz looked lethargic, disinterested and dejected while falling behind big.
In the second half, they did to the Pistons what the Hawks did to them.
After the sluggish start, the Jazz rallied out of a 15-point deficit (like the one they blew Friday), built their own late double-digit advantage and then held on for dear life to escape The Palace at Auburn Hills with a 90-87 victory over the Pistons.
"I feel like it was a little hangover from last night, a tough loss. We felt we should've won that game," Jazz power forward Paul Millsap said, referring to Utah's rough 103-95 loss to the Hawks in a game they led by 15 points in the second half.
"But we still didn't let it deter us from what we wanted to do," Millsap added. "We wanted to come out and win the game. We came out in the second half with a better sense of urgency than in the first, and we did great."
Earlier this week, Al Jefferson called the Jazz's three-game road swing a business trip.
It took awhile Saturday for Big Al, but he shook off Friday's funk with a flare.
"He understand the guys feed off of him. He did a great job, especially in that third quarter, just being the big guy inside," Jazz coach Tyrone Corbin said. "We were able to get the ball to him. They denied him, fronted him but he continued to work. He made some great plays for us."
Jefferson carried Utah back into this contest, scoring 20 points overall. A "Jefferstreak" by him included eight in a row in the momentum-changing third quarter when the Jazz used a 15-2 surge to tie the contest at 56-all.
"No. 1 is defense. We played great defense," said Jefferson, who also had four steals and three assists. "We talked to each other. We helped each other. And all of a sudden, their shots weren't coming so easily."
And suddenly, his were.
Jefferson gave the Jazz their first lead with a jumper late in the third — his 10th point of the quarter.
"I told Paul, 'It starts with us. We lead and everybody else is going to follow,'" Jefferson said. "And that's what we did."
Millsap added six of his 17 points in the comeback quarter, during which the Jazz limited the Pistons to just 11 points.
"It's up to us. It starts with us," Millsap said. "How we play this team goes, so we've got to make sure we do a great job of coming out and playing with energy and a sense of urgency."
After convincing Corbin to keep him in the game after the end of the third quarter, Jefferson had back-to-back dunks to help Utah keep the momentum going.
Jefferson finally got a bit of a breather, and Foye, Derrick Favors, Gordon Hayward and Alec Burks joined in on the fun in the fourth. Utah went ahead by as many as 13 on a monster Burks jam with 3:26 remaining.
"Our main focus," said Foye, who had 17 points, "was just to stay together, keep working and playing Utah Jazz basketball."
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