The Jazz applied a tourniquet more than cured the disease, but their 103-90 victory over the slumping Detroit Pistons on Monday night was still a welcome relief.
Mo Williams scored 20 points, Al Jefferson added 16 and Utah’s bench contributed big-time as the Jazz snapped a four-game losing streak at EnergySolutions Arena.
For a moment, coach Tyrone Corbin and his team could forget last week’s nightmarish road trip, during which Utah lost three games in the final seconds before a blowout defeat in New York.
For a moment, the Jazz could look ahead to the final 18 games of the regular season with a hint of optimism instead of head-shaking frustration.
Yes, Utah handed lottery-bound Detroit its eighth loss in the last nine games.
Yes, the Pistons aren’t the caliber of the teams Utah will have to beat over the next month to reach the Western Conference playoffs.
But the Jazz won and, for the first time in 10 days, no team in the playoff race with them gained ground. Not the Lakers. Not Golden State. Not Houston.
“When you’re on a slide, absolutely it’s a relief,” Williams said. “You come back from a long trip and history shows you can give one away. ... We don’t want to get into a lot [more] learn-your-lesson type deals.”
“It was great,” he said. “... I thought our guys were really focused. They understood the sense of urgency. Regardless of who we are playing, we have to get better and have to perform and I thought, for the most part, we were pretty good.”
More like good enough.
Led by Marvin Williams, Enes Kanter, Gordon Hayward and Jeremy Evans, Utah’s nonstarters dominated the second quarter and helped the Jazz build a 51-37 lead at halftime.
“They gave great energy — a boost right there,” Corbin said. “They pushed the ball down the floor and got some early opportunities.”
When he went back to his starters in the second half, however, Corbin watched the Pistons make the game uncomfortably close.
Detroit made 14 of its 23 shots in the third quarter, when it scored 33 points.
Utah’s stand-and-watch defense failed to force turnovers and, in the final four minutes, the Pistons converted eight straight possessions.
A 15-point lead suddenly turned into a tenuous 76-70 advantage heading into the fourth quarter.
“I thought they made some shots and picked the pace up,” Corbin said. “We talked about making sure we close teams out. We said, ‘Hey guys, we have to get some stops.’ But they did a good job making shots.”
The Jazz never trailed in the fourth quarter, but it was still only 84-79 with 7:01 left before Utah finally pulled away.
Mo Williams followed baskets by Kanter and Evans with a 3-pointer and, defensively, the Jazz stopped Detroit on eight of 10 possessions during a game-deciding 16-6 run.
“I thought our execution was great down the stretch,” Mo Williams said. “... We ran our offense and went through progressions. We found the right man and that person made plays.”
Off the bench, Marvin Williams, Kanter, Hayward and Evans combined for 49 points on 19-for-29 shooting.
Evans scored eight points, grabbed seven rebounds and handed out five assists in one of the best performances of his ever-improving career.
“It goes back to being hungry,” he said, “and this being what you want to do to make a living.”
Storylines Balanced effort yields victory
R Mo Williams scores seven of his 20 points in the final 5:13 and the Jazz defeat Detroit, 103-90.
• Al Jefferson contributes 16 points and 10 rebounds as the Jazz snap a four-game losing streak.
• Backup forward Jeremy Evans finishes with eight points, seven rebounds and a career-high five assists.