It's great just being out there. Gordon's playing at an All-Star level. George, when he's playing, he's playing at an All-Star level. I think we're in a great spot. We love playing here at home. —Jazz guard Rodney Hood
SALT LAKE CITY — There have been a couple of times this season, namely against a pair of ballclubs from opposite coasts, Miami and Sacramento, when the Utah Jazz suffered disappointing defeats on their home court against decidedly weaker opponents.
Quite frankly, those were two games the Jazz really had no business losing.
And Friday could've easily been another one of those frustrating nights.
But Utah's "Triple-H Squad" — Rodney Hood, Gordon Hayward and George Hill — made darned sure that it wasn't.
Hood got the hot hand in the second quarter, scoring 11 straight Utah points during one stretch to help keep his team afloat, and he wound up hitting seven 3-pointers on his way to a season-high 27 points in an impressive 110-77 win over the Detroit Pistons.
"I give a lot of credit to my teammates," Hood said. "... My teammates got me open; they got me open shots starting off, and I felt the rhythm from the beginning of the game. They told me to keep firing away, so I kept shooting.
"It’s great, just being out there playing with those guys," he added. "Gordon’s playing at an All-Star level. George, when he’s playing, he’s playing at an All-Star level. So I just enjoying playing off those guys and just try to be ready when my name is called
"I think we’re in a great spot. We love playing here at home."
In all, Hood, Hill and Hayward combined for 15 3-pointers, and the Jazz made 16 of 31 (51.6 percent) bonus bombs in all as a team.
"You shoot like that, you are going to be hard to beat if you defend," Utah coach Quin Snyder said of his hot-shooting trio. "We were fortunate. You aren't going to shoot like that all the time is the problem. I think that aggressiveness helps."
Snyder liked what he saw from Hood.
"He shoots better when he is decisive," the Jazz coach said. "I think he understands what we want and the message is consistent. ... There are going to be nights when they don't go in, but he just needs to keep doing the same thing because that is the way he needs to play, and play defense.
"I think they are related for him. Where he is aggressive on one end, he is more aggressive on the other."
Hayward scored 10 points in the second quarter and ignited a 9-0 run late in the first half to help the Jazz rally from a seven-point deficit and jump back ahead at halftime, 45-43.
And once they took the lead, the Jazz never looked back en route to a lopsided victory at Vivint Arena.
Hood had 16 points in the first half on his way to 27, and he was 10 of 14 from the field and a near-perfect 7 of 8 from beyond the arc. Hill had 22 points, hitting 8 of 13 shots, including 5 of 6 from distance, and Hayward wound up with 20 points on the night as the Jazz ran their season record to 25-16.
That marks the first time this franchise has been nine games over .500 since Feb. 7, 2011 — three days before their iconic head coach, Jerry Sloan, and his longtime sidekick, Phil Johnson, abruptly decided to walk away from their legendary coaching jobs.
As it turns out, it's taken Utah almost five years to get that far above .500 again, and the playoff-hungry Jazz could go 10 games over .500 with another win at home tonight against Orlando, another sub-.500 opponent.
Hayward heaped plenty of praise on his teammates, Hood and Hill.
"Those guys were hot tonight and when they get hot, it's hard to stop them," he said. "When Hood shoots the ball like that, he's really, really good.
"George has been shooting like that the whole season, it seems like. It was awesome to see them get going, and hopefully they can do it again."
Hayward said the key for Hood's hot shooting is simple: Confidence.
"That's the thing," Hayward said. "When he's playing with confidence like that, I mean, he gets going and he can really score in bunches on you, for sure, and do his own personal runs.
"G (Hill) has been playing like he's been playing the whole year, so to me it's just another normal game for him.
"But glad to see both of them get going, and it just makes us really dynamic as a basketball team," Hayward said. "We can spread the floor and knock down shots, and that opens up everything else for you."
Early on, though, it certainly didn't look like it was going to be anywhere near this easy.
Utah missed its first four shots of the game, then rattled off 10 unanswered points to grab an early 10-0 lead. But Detroit didn't go away, putting together a 15-2 run to take a 15-12 lead on its way to a 19-14 advantage after the first quarter.
"We didn't shoot the ball for a stretch after we got the early lead at first," Snyder said. "The ball didn't go in. Our challenge is when the ball doesn't go in to continue to play the right way offensively and to continue to guard.
"Sometimes when the ball doesn't go in, we go inward a little bit. It's true for those three (Triple-H) guys, too. They've got to be able to do that when they're not making shots."
But after sputtering through a 14-point first quarter, when they shot just 25 percent (6 of 24) from the field, the Jazz blistered the nets for 31 second-period points on 75-percent shooting (12 of 16), including 5 of 5 from 3-point range.
In the third quarter, Hayward continued his steady scoring — not even an unfortunate encounter with some courtside nachos, which left his hand smeared with gooey cheese, could slow him down — and Joe Johnson swished a sweet 59-footer at the buzzer to give Utah a 78-63 lead at the third stop.
Hood hit a couple of quick 3s early in the fourth quarter, and the rout was on.
Hayward also dished out three assists on the night to move past Darrell Griffith for the No. 3 spot on the franchise's all-time assists list.2 comments on this story
For Detroit (18-24), Tobias Harris had 13 points, while Marcus Morris added 11 and Stanley Johnson joined them in double figures with 10 points off the bench. Andre Drummond scored nine points and pulled down 19 rebounds, 12 of them coming in the first half.
"We couldn't score and they scored every time they got it," Pistons coach Stan Van Gundy said of Utah's decisive third-quarter surge.
"We can't stop anybody. We just can't. I mean, for the first 21 games (of the season), we were the second-best defensive team in the league, and now we are one of the worst. I'm frustrated — not with our players — I'm frustrated with myself that I can't figure this out. I mean, we literally can't stop anyone — ever."