Pistons come back once, twice but Utah – their nemesis – hangs on to overcome another big night for Wood
Chris Schwegler (NBAE/Getty)
Three quick observations from Saturday night’s 111-105 loss to the Utah Jazz at Little Caesars Arena
JAZZ FEST – The best thing about the Utah Jazz as far as the Pistons are concerned: They play in the Western Conference and the Pistons only have to see them twice a season. Since the Jazz moved to Utah, the Pistons are 22-58 against them for a .275 winning percentage – their worst against any NBA team. The Pistons are 2-12 against the Jazz at home since the 2005-2006 season. The Pistons managed just 39 points against the Jazz in the first half and trailed by as many as 22 points, but they were a different team out of the locker room. They outscored Utah 34-24 in the third quarter and tied the game at 79 with a 6-0 run to open the fourth quarter. But the Jazz answered with a 7-0 run that ballooned into an 18-2 spurt for a 16-point lead midway through the fourth quarter. Again the Pistons came back, pulling within three points with 42 seconds to play before Rudy Gobert’s two free throws with 18 seconds left made it a two-possession game. Christian Wood, coming off a career-high 29 points in Wednesday’s loss to Oklahoma City, set another new standard with 30 points and 11 rebounds, scoring 20 in the second half. Bojan Bogdanovic proved a tough matchup for the Pistons – too adroit on the perimeter to be guarded by bigs, too crafty getting into the paint to score over smaller defenders – leading the Jazz with 32.
BROWN BACK – Bruce Brown, out the past four games with a left knee contusion, returned to give the Pistons a little more depth and flexibility in the backcourt than they’ve had since Derrick Rose was lost to a sprained ankle in Sunday’s loss at Sacramento. The Pistons played with only Brandon Knight as a legitimate point guard when they hosted Oklahoma City on Wednesday, using second-year shooting guard Khyri Thomas for backup minutes at the position. Brown anchored a second unit that included newcomer Jordan McRae, Langston Galloway, Thon Maker and rookie Sekou Doumbouya. Brown, whom Dwane Casey said would be limited by the medical staff as to how long he could play, wound up giving the Pistons 24 minutes and contributing five points, four rebounds and a team-leading eight assists against just one turnover. Brown’s pick-and-roll chemistry with Christian Wood sparked the second-half run.
SEKOU SURGING – Sekou Doumbouya, Donta Hall, Jordan Bone and Louis King all were back in Detroit for Saturday’s game after spending Friday leading the Grand Rapids Drive to a win in Portland, Maine, with Doumbouya scoring 30 points including the game-winner in a 102-101 win over the Red Claws, who have the second-best record in the G League’s Eastern Conference at 28-12. The Drive improved to 25-16, currently in playoff position. “His intensity level was great,” Dwane Casey said of Doumbouya’s G League outing. “Hit the game-winner, which should give you some confidence.” Doumbouya registered perhaps his best outing since his first few weeks as a starter when he scored in double figures in seven of his first eight starts, finishing with nine points, three rebounds and an assist – a pretty three-quarter-court pass ahead to Christian Wood for a dunk amid the third-quarter rally. Bone finished with 17 points, four assists and three steals in the Drive’s Friday win; Hall with 14 points and 13 rebounds; and King with 13 points.