SALT LAKE CITY (AP) — Utah regained energy on offense and defense in the closing minutes after squandering a huge lead in the fourth quarter.
Donovan Mitchell scored 32 points to lead the Utah Jazz to a 117-105 victory over the Detroit Pistons on Tuesday night.
Mike Conley added 20 points and Bojan Bogdanovic chipped in 18 for Utah, which reclaimed the NBA’s best record with the Los Angeles Clippers loss to the Brooklyn Nets earlier on Tuesday. Royce O’Neale tallied 12 points and 13 rebounds.
The Jazz (16-5) won their ninth straight home game.
Jerami Grant scored 27 points to lead Detroit and Josh Jackson added 22. Mason Plumlee totaled 17 points and 14 rebounds for the Pistons. Detroit (5-16) lost its second straight game.
The Pistons trailed by as many as 28 points in the first half before rallying late in the fourth quarter. Jackson, Grant, and Plumlee scored baskets on three straight possessions to fuel a 10-1 run that cut Utah’s lead to 109-105 with 2:06 left.
Bogdanovic slammed the door on a further rally with back-to-back corner threes, giving the Jazz a 115-105 lead with 48.6 seconds to go.
“The biggest thing is being able to withstand that push,” Mitchell said. “They made a hell of a run and we made a hell of a counter.”
Detroit, who has wins over the Philadelphia 76ers and Los Angeles Lakers in its last five games, narrowly missed on being a giant killer yet again.
“We put ourselves in position to win against one of the best teams in our league again, so that’s all we can ask for right now at this stage of our program,” Pistons coach Dwane Casey said.
Mitchell and Conley each scored a pair of baskets on the first four Jazz possessions and it helped Utah build up a 24-9 first quarter lead. The Jazz capitalized on poor shooting from the Pistons. Detroit missed 12 of its first 16 shots and trailed by double digits for much of the quarter.
The Pistons went nearly five minutes during the first quarter without scoring a basket before Grant’s jumper with 2:08 left in the quarter ended the drought.
Things did not improve for the Pistons on either end of the court in the second quarter. Detroit trimmed the deficit to 45-33 on Plumlee’s tip dunk. Utah quickly ripped off a 9-0 run to keep the Pistons from pulling within single digits. Bogdanovic scored back-to-back 3-pointers to spark the brief spurt.
The Jazz then scored on seven straight possessions to extend their lead to 69-41 later in the quarter. Utah hit eight free throws during that stretch to pull away from Detroit.
“Sometimes when you build a big lead like that, the whole narrative becomes, “what happened?′ because you didn’t win by 30,” Jazz coach Quin Snyder said. “These are NBA teams. They’re good teams. There’s going to be runs. The big thing for us is to make that hard.”
The Pistons made a big push in the fourth quarter before coming up short. The next step, Plumlee said, is playing with the same energy for 48 minutes.
“I hope we can play like that for a full game, all four quarters,” Plumlee said. “It’s nothing spectacular. I just think it’s the fundamentals of getting back on defense, competing, and playing for the next guy. It’s not super complicated.”
Pistons: Blake Griffin shot just 2-of-9 from the field in the first half and shot 4-of-13 overall. He ripped his jersey in half in frustration as he left the court at halftime. … The Pistons outscored the Jazz 20-8 in second-chance points and 22-10 in Fastbreak points. … Detroit went 18-of-20 from the free-throw line.
Jazz: Team PA announcer Dan Roberts missed just his seventh game in 42 seasons. Roberts did not attend the game due to NBA health and safety protocols. Tony Parks filled in for Roberts. …Utah made is first 16 free throws before Gobert missed one with 9:19 left in the third quarter. The Jazz finished 25-of-29 from the line. … Joe Ingles dished out five of his team-high six assists in the first half.
The Jazz allowed an increased number of fans into the game on Tuesday, opening up the upper bowl of Vivint Smart Home Arena to permit socially distanced seating in those sections. Attendance for the game was 3,902 after being limited to 1,932 fans through the teams first 10 home games.
Pistons: Visit the Phoenix Suns on Friday.
Jazz: Visit the Atlanta Hawks on Thursday.