Utah’s Furious Rally Forces OT then Win in Detroit

January 24th, 2018 | by Clint Johnson

Despite a dominant game by All-Star snub Andre Drummond, a 10 to one run to close the fourth quarter allowed Utah to force overtime where they would eventually down the Pistons by three. (Clarence Tabb Jr./Detroit News)

Story of the Game

Prior to this season, the Jazz had spent a year and a half learning how to win games as the first team to 90 points. Tonight they drew on that experience for a rare 98 – 95 road victory in Detroit, but in truth this game was stolen from the Pistons.

Utah’s overall lackluster play from Atlanta hung over into the first half of this game, which saw the Jazz shoot only 38 percent from the field and 27 percent from three on the way to 43 points. Detroit, far from an offensive juggernaut and a team that hadn’t won a game in a full two weeks, managed a solid 46 percent shooting on a strong 16 assists in the half. Only Utah’s 10 of 12 free throws kept them within six.

In the third quarter, something happened that hasn’t been common this year: Utah’s defense took control of the game. They held Detroit to six field goals on 20 attempts (30 percent), didn’t give up a single made three, and stole the ball four times. Against a limited offense, the defense was good enough to hold Detroit to 15 points, allowing the Jazz to take the lead.

Then in a manner fitting for this rough season, Utah fell apart in the fourth quarter. In what has become the norm late in games, Detroit doubled Donovan Mitchell, who had already been dealing with all-league defender Avery Bradley all night. Mitchell struggled, turning the ball over and missing four shots straight shots in the fourth, added to a previous four misses before the quarter started to make him authentically bothered. The team’s offense cratered with him as they missed 11 of 16 field goals and watched their lead of a single point flip into a nine point deficit with 3:17 left in the game.

It looked like a certain loss. Then Utah roared back in the most unlikely of ways, making five of their seven shots while holding Detroit to only a single free throw. Ricky Rubio and Joe Ingles both had two assists down the stretch and Joe Johnson lived up to his winning-time reputation, scoring four to help the team force overtime. Utah closed the half on a 10 to one run to keep the contest going.

In overtime, the threes that had not been falling all evening – the Jazz had made only 29 percent in regulation – dropped. Ingles canned two early in overtime and Mitchell ended his struggles soon after with a third. Those nine points would prove all Utah needed to skip out of Detroit with an unlikely and much needed victory, only their sixth on the road all year.

Stars of the Game

Superstar: None

This was a balanced – and mediocre – effort from Utah with no one player exerting his will for more than short bursts throughout the game.

Secondary Stars: Joe Ingles (13 points, 7 assists, 1 rebound, 2 steals, 3 threes) and Joe Johnson (11 points, 3 rebounds, 3 assists)

Once again Ingles led the team in assists while turning the ball over only once, a marked contrast to Rubio and Mitchell, who combined for 10 assists but also eight turnovers. Moreover, Ingles was at his best in the clutch, not only grabbing the game for the Jazz with his pair of threes in overtime, but it was his lay in on a baseline out-of-bounds set with 4.5 seconds left that sent the game into extra minutes in the first place.

While Johnson’s stats don’t pop, it was when and how he delivered that gave them additional weight. Eight of his 11 points came in the fourth quarter, where he missed only one of his five shots. He also dished two crucial assists in the period to three point shooters. Without Joe Cool’s icy calm late, Utah certainly doesn’t win this game.

Secret Star: Raul Neto (6 points, 2 rebounds, 1 block, 2 threes)

Neto’s torrid three-point shooting continued as he made both of his attempts from long range. He’s now shooting 45 percent on the season.

Stats of the Game

86.4 – Utah’s defensive rating this game, markedly better than of late.

20 – Combined steals (11) and blocks (nine) by Utah.

4 – Jazz free throws in the second half of a rough, physical game with some questionable whistles.

57 – Pistons rebounds, including 15 on the offensive glass.

22.6 percent – Detroit’s three-point shooting, where they made only seven of 31 attempts. Stanley Johnson, Tobias Harris, and Luke Kennard combined to shoot three of 17 (18 percent) from downtown.

Sundries

  • While neither of these teams’s players were named All-Stars, Andre Drummond was a notable snub and he played like it tonight. Drummond, who is much stronger than Gobert but at least as agile, is a tough match up for the Stifle Tower and it showed. Detroit’s star had likely the best game of his career, scoring 30, gobbling up 24 rebounds, and adding in four assists, three steals, and six blocks! The career 38 percent free throw shooter even made eight of 12 free throws, though every one of those misses hurt his team. It was likely the most dominant game any center has ever put up against Gobert (who did manage a respectable 15 points, eight rebounds, one assist, and four blocks).
  • This is an unlikely win but maybe a just one. The game was rough, with lots of grabbing and holding by both teams, yet in the second half the refs oddly chose to blow the whistle on a handful of questionable fouls, some ticky tacky and one or two simple phantom calls, all against Utah. Part of Mitchell’s struggles were he blew by Bradley several times only to take significant body contact at the rim that wasn’t called. That wasn’t out of place with how the game was officiated throughout, but it certainly was with Drummond parading to the line on some pretty light contact on the other side of the floor.
  • Derrick Favors shot wasn’t falling (four of 11 and only eight points) but defensively he was awesome. In 24 minutes of play, he had four steals, three blocks, and seven defensive rebounds.
  • Rubio had a strong game with 11 points on eight shots, 10 rebounds, five assists, and a steal. He also tied Ingles with a team-high plus-seven on the night. In games like this, where guts and smarts decide who wins, he can help the team grind out victories.
  • While the Jazz are managing to win some games, they aren’t making up ground in the playoff chase. The eighth-seeded Nuggets have won four of their last 10 games, the same number as the Jazz.

The recent losses at home against the Knicks and in Atlanta may hurt the Jazz a lot. Three of their next four games are Friday in Toronto then next week holds contests against the Warriors and Spurs. While tonight’s overtime win is nice, the feeling could be erased quickly unless the team manages to grab a few games as significant underdogs in the near future.

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.

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