Not enough scoring punch for shorthanded Pistons as ’19 ends with loss to Jazz
Melissa Majchrzak (NBAE/Getty)
Three quick observations from Monday night’s 104-81 loss to the Utah Jazz at Vivint Smart Home Arena
POWER OUTAGE – After an ugly but effective first half, it just turned ugly after halftime. The Pistons put together their best defensive first half of the season, limiting Utah to 39 points – but led by just one. When they turned it over on seven of their first 10 possessions of the second half, Utah capitalized with a 16-2 run over the first six minutes that saw Dwane Casey burn two timeouts and make quicker substitutions than usual to stem the bleeding. Those six minutes were the ballgame. The Pistons pulled back within seven points, but no closer, on a night that seven points felt like a significant deficit. The 81 points by the Pistons were eight under their previous season low of 89 in a Nov. 20 loss at Chicago. Without Blake Griffin and Luke Kennard, the Pistons didn’t have enough scoring punch in their first unit, which combined to score just 46 points. Derrick Rose led the Pistons, scoring 20 off the bench.
FRONTCOURT DEFICIT – Without both Blake Griffin and Markieff Morris injured, Dwane Casey was handcuffed by having only three big men available. It helped that Utah’s starting lineup didn’t include a conventional power forward, allowing Casey to slide Tony Snell over to that spot to guard Bojan Bogdanovic. Even with only Andre Drummond, Christian Wood and Thon Maker as interior players, Casey still only had to use Maker for nine minutes until bringing him back with 2:29 to play and the Pistons trailing by 20 points. Morris has missed the past two games with a sprained foot and Griffin sat out at Utah with more of the left knee soreness that’s now caused him to miss 14 of the 34 games. Casey said it wasn’t yet clear if Griffin would be available for the next game, Thursday at the Los Angeles Clippers. In Griffin’s only game at Staples Center against the Clippers, he scored 44 points last January in a Pistons win. Drummond had a night in keeping with the Pistons offensive woes: He finished with 15 points and 13 rebounds but shot five of 16.
3-POINT TROUBLE – If you had parachuted into Monday’s matchup without any previous knowledge of the Pistons or Jazz, it would shock you at halftime to know you’d just watched two of the three top 3-point shooting teams in the NBA. Utah came in with the top figure of 38.9 percent and the Pistons checked in at No. 3 at 37.7 percent. In the first half, each team made just two 3-pointers. Utah hit 2 of 11 while the Pistons were 2 of 8, both of their makes coming from Svi Mykhailiuk. Utah’s 29-point third quarter was sparked by the Jazz hitting 5 of 8 triples but the Pistons continued to scuffle, taking just two 3-pointers and missing both of them. Mykhailiuk was the only Pistons player to make a triple until Derrick Rose made one with five minutes to play. More than the 28.6 percent accuracy, Casey will be troubled by the lack of attempts. Their 14 threes taken were a season low by five and only the second time this season the Pistons have taken fewer than 20 with 24 their next-lowest total. Utah finished 10 of 26 from three with recent acquisition Jordan Clarkson hitting 4 of 7 in a 20-point outing.