42-Point First Quarter Helps Jazz Smash Pistons

March 13th, 2018 | by Clint Johnson

The Utah Jazz’s Jonus Jerebko (8) poses after hitting one of his three three-point shots against the Detroit Pistons, the team who drafted him in 2009. (Getty Images/Gene Sweeney Jr.)

Story of the Game

The Detroit Pistons just jumped with both feet into a wood chipper named the Utah Jazz.

In arguably their most impressive outing of the season, Utah dominated Detroit in every facet of the game for an easy 110 – 79 home victory after returning from a perfect three-game road trip. Practically speaking, the game was over by the first quarter. Detroit ran face first into an offensive buzzsaw rarely seen outside of Golden State or Houston.

In a blur of dunks by Rudy Gobert and a barrage of six made threes on nine attempts, more makes than the Pistons managed all night, Detroit was systematically dismantled. Utah ended the quarter shooting 81 percent from the field, dished an impressive 13 assists on 17 made baskets, and scored an amazing 42 points in the game’s first 12 minutes. 

The Pistons mustered half as many at 21. 

Game over.

Rather than offer refunds the Jazz chose to play out the game, methodically stretching their advantage: 25 at halftime, 27 by the end of the third, and eventually 31 by game’s end. 

By the final buzzer, Utah managed to out-shoot Detroit by nearly 20 percentage points from both the three point line and the field. Every Jazz starter was at least a plus-18 and, with an entire fourth quarter of garbage time, head coach Quin Snyder was able to rest his horses and play a full 12 player deep off his bench as he coasted to the team’s seventh straight win. 

Stars of the Game

Superstar: Rudy Gobert (22 points, 12 rebounds, 1 assist, 2 blocks)

Gobert’s scoring was typically efficient thanks to making nine of his 12 attempts from the field. Uncharacteristically by recent standards, he did miss five of his nine free throw attempts, so he actually should have had at least a few more points. Yet that can be overlooked given his superb response after Andre Drummond produced a historic 30 point, 24 rebound, six block gem of a game against Gobert earlier this season1. Tonight, Drummond was thoroughly outplayed, managing only 13 points on eight shots. Gobert’s reputation as a player who takes challenges personally will only deepen after thoroughly frustrating Drummond tonight.

Secondary Stars: Joe Ingles (17 points, 7 rebounds, 7 assists, 1 steal, 3 threes) and Jonus Jerebko (16 points, 8 rebounds, 1 assist, 1 block, 3 threes)

Against the Pistons’s outmatched squad, Ingles cerebral game was on full display as he faked and juked his way wherever he wanted on the floor. The game opened with Gobert trundling to the rim repeatedly for wide open dunks thanks to Ingles manipulation of Detroit’s defense. Other times, he leaked out off patented flair screens or pulled up in the secondary break for wide open three pointers, of which he made three of five attempts. It’s simply insane that the best three point shooter in the league over the past two seasons keeps getting wide open looks from long range, but it keeps on keeping on.

After a quiet stretch where his jumper failed him, Jerebko has joined Jae Crowder recently to bolster Utah’s bench. Tonight he punished the team that drafted him in the second round in 2009. He nailed three of five attempts from long range and grabbed four times as many rebounds as Blake Griffin, which should say a ton about how the Griffin experiment is going in Detroit. Jerebko plays with constant enthusiasm and, now that his sweet stroke is back, the permanent smile that has come to mark his game in his first season in Salt Lake.

Secret Star: Royce O’ Neale (2 points, 3 rebounds, 2 assists, 1 steal, 1 block, +18)

O’Neale continues to make a positive impact without demanding either shots or attention, making him a perfect cog in Quin Snyder’s well-tuned machine. The 24-year-old rookie’s plus-minus on the season of plus-2.6 is higher than any Jazz player averaging at least 15 minutes per game with the exception of Crowder and Gobert.

Stats of the Game

111 – Utah’s offensive rating, the same as the 50 and 17 Toronto Raptors’s offense this season.

80.3 – Utah defensive rating, more than 20 points per 100 possessions better than the league-leading Celtics on the year.

6 – Jazz players with 12 or more points: Gobert (22), Ingles (17), Jerebko (16), Crowder (14), Mitchell (13), and Favors (12).

9 – Rebounds by Mitchell, a career high.

0 – Seconds the Pistons either led or tied this game.


  • The Pistons shot five of 25 from three tonight, which isn’t at all surprising. With both Reggies out (Jackson and Bullock), there may be no team in the league with less shooting.
  • In a matchup between two of the few teams in the league that start two fairly traditional bigs2, Utah’s duo clearly outclassed Detroit’s. Where Gobert and Favors managed a combined 34 points on 19 shots along with 16 rebounds, Drummond and Griffin countered with only 26  points on 24 shots and 13 rebounds. The Jazz also outscored the Pistons by 14 in the paint.
  • A pattern is starting to emerge in the Jazz’s win streak. Often, opposing offenses are managing to keep pace with the Jazz by relying on bursts of made long two point shots, which is how Detroit opened the game tonight. As the meat of an offense, those shots really aren’t sustainable and when they stop failing team’s quickly find themselves in a hole against the Jazz. It’s fascinating how many of the shots the Jazz have gotten recently are shots they want while the shots they allow opponents are also the shots they want to give up. It’s a tough formula to beat. 
  • While it would be easy to see no silver lining for Detroit in this game, Stanley Johnson’s defense was worth noting. He had four steals and showed the quickness to keep up with Donovan Mitchell one-on-one, which is super impressive for a player as strong as Johnson. If his offensive game ever finds some consistency, he’ll be a good piece when he gets a shot to contribute to a quality team.
  • Given the blowout, there were Alec Burks (6 points, 1 rebound, 2 steals), Georges Niang (4 points, 1 assist), and even Erik McCree (1 rebound, 1 steal) sightings tonight.
  • Raul Neto will miss a few weeks with a broken wrist, yet providence has it that the notoriously conservative Jazz are publically stating they hope for Dante Exum to be available to play this week. Everything is working in Utah’s favor now.

While Utah currently sits on an 11-game road win streak, one of only 10 such streaks in the last 20 years, the team must be reveling in this stretch of home cooking against inferior competition. And they Must capitalize. It truly is remarkable that the Jazz remain in a dogfight for a playoff slot after winning 19 of 21 games. Their competition for playoff position just keep winning: the Spurs, Pelicans, Clippers, Thunder, and Timberwolves all won tonight, while Denver and the Lakers are going nearing crunch time in a tight contest. The Jazz just have to keep winning, and a home game against the Suns on Thursday is about as good an opportunity to do that as exists. 

Clint Johnson

Clint Johnson

Clint Johnson is a professional author, writing educator, and editor. He teaches writing at Salt Lake Community College. A frequent presenter at both writing and educational conferences, he writes about the Jazz as a break from his other writing work.
Clint Johnson

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  1. Paul Johnson says:

    One thing I have noticed about Alec Burks lately is that he seems to be very thin–like he has lost about 20 pounds over his previous playing weight. That could be the reason he hasn’t been very effective. I think he needs to get back into the weight room and bulk up–using that formula that helped Gordon Hayward put on about 20 pounds of muscle over two summers (I still suspect that Hayward was using some type of steroid in order to make that quick weight gain).

    • Clint Johnson says:

      Interesting. I can’t say that I’ve looked for that. If there’s something to it, I wonder if it might be part of conditioning to avoid injury? Whatever the case, I just don’t think Snyder’s system of frequent ball and man movement, which requires lots of quick unselfish decisions, is a very natural fit for Burks.

  2. Clark says:

    ESPN play by play indicates that the game was, in fact, tied for the first 18 seconds. To not even be tied for a single second would be quite the feat indeed! (Can the opening tip be tipped into the basket for 3 points? Probably a more realistic way would be for someone to pick up a technical foul before the game even starts. Or multiple delay of game warnings before the opening tip? Great, now I’m going to spend half and hour googling to see if this has ever happened.)

    • Clint Johnson says:

      What a great question! I can’t remember such a situation, but I also can’t see a reason why it couldn’t happen. Maybe as players ready for the jump? I’d have to be very one-sided for it not to be a double tech. If it did, would they take a second off the game clock and then jump with 11:59 left in the first?

      • Don says:

        What about improper uniforms? Not fielding enough players? Draymond kicking someone in the tunnel on the way in? All possible pre-tipoff technicals.

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