At Long Last

Monroe, Drummond dominant as Pistons snap 12-year drought in Utah


The story of the game in Pistons red, white and blue

WHITE HOT – Andre Drummond made his first eight shots and finished with his 48th double-double, 19 points and 14 rebounds, and Greg Monroe added 18 points and 11 rebounds as the Pistons salvaged the finale of their four-game Western Conference road trip with a 114-94 win over the Utah Jazz. It was Detroit’s first win at Utah since Nov. 6, 2002, when Rip Hamilton scored 28 points in an 80-78 win. The Pistons led by 20 at halftime, shooting 61 percent and outrebounding the Jazz 28-14. Gordon Hayward led a Jazz second-half rally that saw them come cut a 25-point deficit to 13 and he finished with 32 points.

BLUE COLLAR – The Pistons haven’t had a ton of nights where they got so much from so many off their bench as they did at Utah. Jonas Jerebko, following up his 22-point, nine-rebound game on Saturday, put up seven points and eight rebounds. Will Bynum didn’t come on until four minutes into the second quarter because Brandon Jennings was playing so well, but he had six assists without a turnover in eight first-half minutes and finished with nine assists and no turnovers. Kentavious Caldwell-Pope pitched in with 13 points and four boards. The unit was on the floor when the Pistons put together the game’s dominant quarter, a 34-17 second quarter. Rodney Stuckey picked it up in the second half when he scored 15 of his 19 points.

RED FLAG – The whipping of Utah on the road has to cause the Pistons to wince at the memory of losing by 21 points to the Jazz at The Palace in mid-January. That loss, and another handful just like it in a January stretch when the schedule was favorable, haunts the Pistons now with a playoff berth slipping out of their grasp with only 12 games remaining.

SALT LAKE CITY – The Pistons went into the 2010 and ’11 drafts looking to draft size, preferably size combined with athleticism. They spent countless hours and dollars following Derrick Favors and Enes Kanter, but never got the chance to select either player. Both went third, four and five spots ahead of the Pistons’ landing spots in the lotteries those years.

That sting eased long ago, but the showing of Andre Drummond and Greg Monroe on Monday night in a place less hospitable to the Pistons than any building in the league serves as a beacon amid a season of disappointment of a future worth embracing.

Favors and Kanter are at the heart of Utah’s rebuilding project and among the best young big men in the game themselves. But they got beat up pretty good on Monday night. Drummond and Monroe combined for 37 points and 25 rebounds, roundly outplaying their Jazz counterparts, and they did it with surgical efficiency.

Drummond made his first eight shots and finished 9 of 10. Monroe sunk 9 of 15. Both had double-doubles, Drummond with 19 points and 14 rebounds, Monroe 18 and 11.

“I think we were both just aggressive,” Monroe said. “Moved around trying to get second shots and just trying to be aggressive in the post, taking what they gave us. Both of us did a good job of being patient.”

“I thought our bigs did a better job of not getting pushed under the basket and holding their ground,” John Loyer said. “We had a long stretch where we gave them one shot and we did a pretty nice job in transition to go and attack them.”

Monroe did his work in less than 30 minutes, which speaks to two things: How well he made use of his time and how well the Pistons played when he was on the bench.

"(Winning in Utah) is very rare. I think we played as a team tonight. We were helping each other offensively and defensively."

- Rodney Stuckey on beating Utah
Full game quotes
The Pistons have had solid contributions from a handful of players off their bench this season, but rarely have they gotten the type of sustained effort from the second unit as they got in Utah.

The game swung to the Pistons decisively in the second quarter, when the predominant lineup combination consisted of Drummond out with four backups: Will Bynum, Rodney Stuckey, Kentavious Caldwell-Pope and Jonas Jerebko.

If you believe in the value of plus-minus – a measure of scoring differential while any individual player is on the court – then it matches what the eyeball test suggested Monday. Stuckey was plus-20, while Bynum, Jerebko and Caldwell-Pope were all plus-18 in a game the Pistons won by 20, 114-94;

“It was pretty good,” said Bynum, who put up nine assists without a turnover in 17 minutes on a night starter Brandon Jennings (15 points, eight assists on just nine shots) was also very good. “We were sharing the basketball, defending, getting stops, getting out in transition, and we were just hitting on all cylinders.”

When Utah began to rally in the third quarter after falling behind by 25 points, the bench again pushed back. Stuckey scored 15 of his 19 after halftime and Caldwell-Pope added seven and four rebounds.

“Will came in and moved the ball around, Jonas has been playing really well the last few games – slashing, making open shots – and Pope had a good game tonight,” Monroe said. “It was a great team win for us tonight.”

“The bench, down the stretch and really this whole trip, has been very good,” Loyer said. “Rodney has been very much in attack mode. He’s excellent when we’re in the bonus. Jonas has been very solid on both ends of the floor. I thought Kentavious in particular was very, very good tonight. And you can’t leave out Will. Will’s really passing the ball well and down the stretch, instead of settling for shots, he really found people. If you get contributions from four guys like that, you’re going to have a chance to win.”

The Pistons haven’t had many of those in the last 12 years in Utah. The 20-point romp brought an emphatic end to a 12-year road drought against the Jazz. Rip Hamilton and Chauncey Billups were first-year Pistons the last time they won in Salt Lake City, Tayshaun Prince a Kentucky senior.

“Wow,” said Bynum, whose six-season tenure as a Piston only covers half the streak. “It’s about time. Should be a lot more winning here from this point.”

With Drummond and Monroe at the heart of it, the Pistons can take that away from an otherwise disappointing season.