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Instant analysis: Jazz stave off Pistons’ late surge in win at home

SHARE Instant analysis: Jazz stave off Pistons’ late surge in win at home
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Utah Jazz forward Royce O’Neale (23) and guard Donovan Mitchell (45) celebrate their win over the Detroit Pistons at Vivint Smart Home Arena in Salt Lake City on Tuesday, Feb. 2, 2021.

Spenser Heaps, Deseret News

The Utah Jazz bounced back from their Sunday loss to the Denver Nuggets with a well-balanced 117-105 win over the Detroit Pistons on Tuesday night at Vivint Arena.

High notes

  • Let’s talk about one of Donovan Mitchell’s many qualities: His ability to control the pace of a game. He had absolutely no intentions at any point on Tuesday of letting the Pistons slow down the game, and he was more than willing to lead the break for the Jazz nearly every time they had the opportunity to get out in front of the defense. It was one of many instances in which he’s done that this season, but he was particularly aggressive against Detroit. And his 32 points — 30 of which were scored in the first three quarters — were pretty nice, too.

“It’s a lot to be able to run the way we do. You know, we got old guys on the team. I make fun of them all the time, you got Mike, you got Joe. It’s a lot though ... but the willingness to run, which creates not only the passing lanes but the driving lanes and the stuff we do to get our threes. You get tired. You’re running all the way and then if we miss you gotta run back on the front and run again, it gets tiring after a while but the persistence behind it ...those are the energy plays, those are the ones are going to take us over this over that hump.” —Donovan Mitchell

  • There were so many good passes by the Jazz during this game, and it wasn’t just from the likely suspects of Mitchell and Mike Conley. Bojan Bogdanovic, Royce O’Neale (who has been an exceptional passer all season) and Derrick Favors all got in some serious dimes.

“That’s what makes this group special, and it’s not always the case. We’re passing up shots to get a better shot.” —Donovan Mitchell

  • Speaking of Favors, his box score line reads six points, six rebounds, but that doesn’t tell the whole story. Favors was excellent and unselfish and really, really good on Tuesday.
  • Conley quietly had another great game and did it in such a well-rounded manner. He was a facilitator, cutter, timely scorer and was great on defense. I’m often so impressed with how willingly and how much Conley sacrifices his body for a play. He’s been in the league for 14 years. No one would be mad if he wasn’t a hustle player at this point, but he is in such great shape and is really more durable than he gets credit for.
  • Players not named Favors or Rudy Gobert accounted for 37 of the Jazz’s 50 rebounds. Wow. 
  • Credit to the Pistons defense and in particular their bench defenders who came in and repeatedly tried to make the Jazz work. Even when it felt like the game was getting out of reach, they still were battling. For a team that hasn’t had really anything to battle for in a while, it’s impressive to see any sort of fight. In addition to the defense working, Josh Jackson and Isaiah Stewart made big plays on the offensive boards that were really important. The Pistons would not let go and continued to keep the game close even though it was clear that their best wasn’t going to be enough.

“They’re a good team. They’ve played the most difficult schedule in the league, I think, and they’ve had a lot of close games. We really came out strong... and I thought the way that we finished the game, we really got going again and we got running again.” — Jazz head coach Quin Snyder

  • The fans in Vivint deserve some credit, too. When Bogdanovic was hitting clutch shots late in the fourth quarter, you wouldn’t have been able to guess that the arena was at less than 25% capacity. The fans in attendance really got loud in an impressive way. Shout out to the upper-bowl fans who brought some extra heat on their first night back.

Low notes

  • Rodney McGruder was already owned by Klay Thompson on Sunday, so I won’t go in on him too hard here, but he was really lacking in his 16 minutes and then found it really necessary to argue with a ref during a play in which the ball went into the backcourt and the ref motioned that it was tipped back by Detroit, meaning the Jazz did not commit a backcourt violation by retrieving the ball. There were so many other things the Pistons, and McGruder, should have been worrying about. That wasn’t the hill to die on.

  • I know it’s nit-picky to do this, but I would love if O’Neale would just shoot when he’s open. The Jazz want him to, the fans want him to, I want him to, we all want him to. 

Flat notes

  • Blake Griffin’s career has really had one of the most unfortunate trajectories. By all accounts he could have ended up as a Hall of Fame player, but injury and circumstance have plagued his time in the league, and it’s really surprising that he isn’t as angry as he was on Tuesday all the time.

After the halftime buzzer sounded, he sat for a few moments on the bench, stewing, before kicking over his chair and ripping his jersey in half as he walked into the tunnel.