Imitation is the sincerest form of flattery.
Twenty-four hours after coughing up a 15-point lead en route to a loss to the Atlanta Hawks, the Utah Jazz did their best Atlanta impersonation Saturday by overcoming a 15-point Detroit Pistons lead. It went down to the wire, but Utah held on 90-87.
The Jazz enjoyed nice performances by Al Jefferson (20 points, 10 rebounds, four steals), Paul Millsap (17 points and seven boards) and Randy Foye (17 points, 3-of-5 3-pointers). After a seven-minute outing Friday, Alec Burks bounced back with 12 points, playing crucial point guard minutes down the stretch.
Ebbs and Flows: Once again, the constant up-and-down nature of the NBA was encapsulated in Saturday’s game. From Utah’s perspective, the Jazz experienced lethargy, disappointment, excitement, elation, doubt and relief — all within four quarters of basketball.
The tumultuous second half of the Atlanta game seemingly carried over for the Jazz to start the Detroit outing. The Pistons pounced on Utah early, taking an early 22-9 lead just minutes into the game. The Jazz managed a paltry 13 first-quarter points. The Pistons built as high as a 15-point lead. Down 11 at halftime, it appeared the Jazz's three-game road trip would reach disaster status.
That is why there are 48 minutes in a game. Utah re-emerged in the second half, assuming the role of aggressor. The Jazz pushed the pace, passed the ball around, moved without it, and got high-percentage shots as a result. More importantly, their heightened defensive effort frustrated the Pistons. The tables were turned as Utah instigated a 28-point swing, snatching a 13-point lead on an Alec Burks’ layup with 3:26 left.
Then, as is common in the NBA, things got interesting. Detroit guard Will Bynum (eight consecutive points) spurred on a 12-2 run to cut things down to three. An errant Brandon Knight 3-point attempt kept the Pistons from making a full comeback of their own.
All within one NBA game.
• After assisting on just 7 of its first 17 field goals, Utah finished the game by assisting 14 of its final 19 made shots.
• Fifteen of the Jazz’s assists came off the hands of their reserves, with Earl Watson leading the team with six dimes. Gordon Hayward added five.
•While Al Jefferson had 18 field goal attempts and Detroit’s Knight had 16 of his own, neither shot a free throw.
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.