Pistons at Jazz Game Preview - Jan. 3, 2011
The Utah Jazz have not lost to the Detroit Pistons since they drafted Deron Williams in the first round in 2005.
The Jazz will try to make it 11 straight over the Pistons and continue their mastery of Eastern Conference foes Monday night.
Williams missed the first meeting with Detroit after being drafted before averaging 18.0 points and 9.6 rebounds - close to his career averages - over the next nine. Former Pistons center Mehmet Okur has also been a major factor during this run for Utah (23-11), averaging 20.4 points and 9.2 rebounds in nine games.
Okur has appeared in only four contests for the Jazz this season, missing the last two with a strained back. Utah, though, showcased great depth in a 98-92 victory over Memphis on Saturday.
Earl Watson, Ronnie Price and rookie Gordon Hayward helped Utah's reserves outscore Memphis' 32-6. Hayward scored 13 points and has averaged 13.7 over his last three games.
"Our bench has been a strong point for us all season," Williams said. "It's contagious. I wish the first group could do that. That way we could keep it going rather than have to have . . . the second group bring us back."
Paul Millsap had 22 points and 10 rebounds and Williams scored 10 of his 19 points in the fourth quarter for Utah, winner of four of six.
"Crunch time is when your best player steps up," Millsap said of Williams. "He knew it was his time."
The Jazz will try to improve on their league-best 11-1 mark against teams from the East. Utah is 4-0 against Central Division foes.
The Pistons (11-22) are 4-11 versus the West and 0-3 against teams from the Northwest Division. Detroit is 2-16 all-time at EnergySolutions Arena and has dropped seven straight there.
The Pistons are hoping that leading scorer Rodney Stuckey, averaging 16.3 points, returns after missing the last two games with a stomach virus.
Tracy McGrady has started in Stuckey's place. He scored 21 points in a 104-92 win over Boston on Wednesday before being held to seven on 3-of-10 shooting in a 92-75 loss at Phoenix on Friday.
The Pistons shot 40.8 percent against the Suns and finished with their third-lowest point total of the season.
"We were not moving the ball a lot," guard Ben Gordon said. "The sets we were running weren't helping us. We never really made adjustments."
Gordon scored a team-high 19 points in his sixth straight start. He's averaging 14.0 points in that span while replacing Richard Hamilton, who has averaged 9.5 points on 36.6 percent shooting in his last four games as a reserve.
Hamilton missed the Pistons' last two road games against the Jazz. His 38.9 shooting percentage at EnergySolutions Arena is his worst mark in any building.
The Jazz could receive a boost if C.J. Miles plays. The swingman, averaging a career-high 12.1 points, has missed the last three games due to flu-like symptoms.