The safe confines of EnergySolutions Arena were the antidote for the Utah Jazz’s recent road woes. After a disastrous, winless four-game road trip, playing at home against a struggling Detroit Pistons team was what the doctor ordered. Utah comfortably won 103-90.
Entering Monday’s affair, the Utah Jazz had the NBA’s eighth-best home record, but just the 19th-best record on the road. If their recent road trip was evidence of the latter, their performance against the Pistons proved the former. While they did not dazzle, they were able to withstand a decent run by Detroit to capture a much-needed victory.
The win moves the Utah Jazz into a tie with the Los Angeles Lakers, but by virtue of owning the tiebreaker, they find themselves back in the Western Conference’s eighth playoff slot.
Ratcheted Reserves: It has been a constant theme this season, but the Jazz bench injected a positive energy and teamwork into a somewhat listless first half. The Jazz reserves dominated the second quarter, outscoring Detroit 31-18.
Perhaps the story of the game for Utah was the play of fan favorite Jeremy Evans. With injuries affecting the Jazz rotation (Paul Millsap and Jamaal Tinsley were out), Evans took advantage of the opportunity. In 24 minutes of action, the high-flying forward played an excellent floor game — eight points, seven rebounds, five assists and two blocked shots. He hustled, crashed the boards and hit a pair of jump shots.
Enes Kanter continued his strong, strong play. He was again brilliant offensively, hitting a variety of shots from inside and outside. In some ways, his scoring looked effortless against the Pistons’ big man corps. The Turkish center was 7 of 9 from the floor for 14 points and eight rebounds.
Marvin Williams’ move to the bench seems to have rejuvenating his play. The veteran small forward registered his third consecutive encouraging game. With a bounce in his step, he looked confident offensively. Williams connected on 5 of 8 shots, including 2 of 3 from 3-point range. He had 14 points, six rebounds and four assists.
Add in Gordon Hayward’s 13 points, and Utah’s bench outscored Detroit’s 54-41. More importantly, each reserved managed a positive plus-minus mark. Four of them were between plus-16 and plus-23.
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• Mo Williams had his best outing since returning to the lineup. Utah’s starting point guard had 20 points and six assists in 26 minutes.
• Detroit guard Brandon Knight exited the game after just four minutes of action, thus keeping him from redeeming himself from the highly publicized DeAndre Jordan dunk — and the unfair criticism he received from the play.
• After having 13 assists and 19 turnovers against the New York Knicks, Utah had 26 assists to just 11 turnovers Monday.
• Utah’s handiwork on the boards, outrebounding Detroit 47-30, was also integral.
David Smith provides instant analysis for Deseret News' Utah Jazz coverage. He works for LDS Philanthropies and also blogs for the Utah Jazz 360 website. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or on Twitter at davidjsmith1232.