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Analysis: Pistons rookie Cade Cunningham shines as Jazz lose third straight

SHARE Analysis: Pistons rookie Cade Cunningham shines as Jazz lose third straight
Detroit Pistons guard Cade Cunningham shoots

Detroit Pistons guard Cade Cunningham attempts a basket during the first half of an NBA basketball game against the Utah Jazz, Monday, Jan. 10, 2022, in Detroit.

Carlos Osorio, Associated Press

DETROIT — The Utah Jazz are in the midst of its worst losing streak of the 2021-22 season after a 126-116 loss to the Detroit Pistons on Monday night.

High Notes

  • The best part of this game for the Jazz was when the final buzzer sounded. There are things the Jazz can look forward to — Joe Ingles has cleared the NBA’s health and safety protocols and will be able to return to play soon and the team is hoping that Rudy Gobert is not far behind him. But there were not a ton of things to be proud of from the loss against Detroit.
  • The Pistons are one of just two teams in the Eastern Conference who have yet to hit the double-digit mark in the win column. As such, the Pistons aren’t on a lot of people’s radar. They barely seem to be on their own fans’ radar — the building was sparsely filled on Monday night. But there is a very bright spot in Detroit and his name is Cade Cunningham. The Pistons are dealing with the fact that the 2020 No. 7 overall pick in Killian Hayes isn’t panning out the way they (or anyone else) thought he would, but the most recent No. 1 overall pick is making things look a lot better. There are more eyes on Scottie Barnes (Toronto) and Evan Mobley (Cleveland) because those teams are actually playing winning basketball, but I’ve seen all three up close and Cunningham is in a league of his own. He plays well beyond his years and he is so impressive in every facet of the game. He was the most impressive player on the court with 29 points, eight assists, two steals and two blocks.
  • One of the things that Donovan Mitchell has added to his game that is really useful and he’s been able to utilize quite a bit this season is a really high arc on his shot. He doesn’t use it all the time and he doesn’t have to — he already had a really nice arc before now. But it seems like the new rule changes this season have forced him to adapt to the defense a little bit differently. Rather than jump into the defense to draw a foul, he rainbows up a shot that is actually really accurate.

  • In the first half the Jazz had a few defensive moments, especially from Mitchell and Jordan Clarkson that were noteworthy and were encouraging. They were staying tight on their men and were deflecting passes and making good reads. If that had lasted through to the second half we’d probably have more to talk about here.

Low Notes

  • There are a lot of things that Rudy Gobert is better at than Hassan Whiteside, but one of them that stands out is Gobert’s ability to get to the line. Double-digit trips to the free throw line are a regular occurrence for Gobert, who, though he sometimes struggles to finish, plays through contact all the time. Whiteside, on the other hand, seems to lose the ball or get blocked when he has defenders around him. He took just two free throws in 33 minutes. It seems like a small thing to mention, but those plays, the ones that end in free throws, do a lot for the game. It gives some of the guys a chance to talk with the coaching staff, it gives everyone a rest, it adds points to the scoreboard.
  • When the Jazz commit turnovers it seems like they always come in bunches and that they are in live situations that let the opposing team get out and run. The Jazz seem to get into a sort of chaos mode when things start to go a little downhill and they get loose with the ball rather than tightening up.
    “At the beginning of the third quarter we didn’t take care of the ball and gave them some some easy, easy stuff, which I thought helped build their confidence.” — Jazz head coach Quin Snyder

Flat Notes

  • The Jazz closed out their five-game road trip with three straight losses, the team’s longest losing streak of the season. In their loss to the Raptors, there’s not a lot that anyone is going to point to because the Jazz were without eight of their top nine guys, but against the Indiana Pacers on Saturday and the Pistons on Monday, the Jazz’s defense was bad. They offered little to no resistance against the Pistons and got beat repeatedly. The Jazz’s perimeter defense looks like it really has some issues that can’t be overlooked anymore.
    “These last two games, I don’t think it’s been the best that we’ve played at all — on that end, or offensively.” — Jordan Clarkson