Jazz maintain dominance of Pistons
AUBURN HILLS, Mich. » Maybe it's a coincidence, maybe not, but the Jazz have yet to lose to the Detroit Pistons in the four years since Deron Williams arrived in Utah, a time in which the Pistons have averaged close to 59 victories a season.
The winning streak now stands at seven games and counting as the Jazz outlasted the Pistons 120-114 in double overtime Friday night with Williams hitting jumpers at the end of regulation and late in the first overtime.
It was Williams' 15th game back from the sprained left ankle he suffered Oct. 18, but the first in which he looked like his former self. Williams finished with 29 points and eight assists in 46 minutes and agreed afterward with the assessment.
"After that last half of the New Jersey game, my confidence is up, my ankle feels a lot better," Williams said. "The right side of my body now is hurting, but I feel much better, more explosive. I feel like I'm working my way back to my normal self."
The Jazz took advantage as Rasheed Wallace fouled out in the first overtime and Richard Hamilton, Rodney Stuckey and Antonio McDyess followed in the second. Kyle Korver's three-pointer with 41.3 seconds left was the backbreaker, giving the Jazz a 116-112 lead.
"I was so ecstatic," said Williams, who drove and found Korver for the shot. "I didn't know if I had another overtime in me. So I'm glad he did it."
If not for Williams, the Jazz wouldn't have had a chance of winning on a snowy night at the Palace of Auburn Hills. He gave the Jazz a 98-96 lead with 2.3 seconds left in regulation by driving left on Stuckey, stopping on a dime, spinning back and hitting a 17-footer.
"I probably couldn't have hit that shot two weeks ago," Williams said. "After I get it warmed up, there's really no pain. The pain is as soon as I'm done and in the night, but it usually feels better by the morning."
The Pistons answered Williams' shot and forced overtime as Hamilton got free from Korver on an inbounds play and hit a 17-footer with 0.4 seconds left. It was a punch to the gut, but the Jazz were able to regroup.
After Tayshaun Prince beat the shot clock and hit a runner over Paul Millsap (24 points, 13 rebounds) with 38.7 seconds left in the first overtime, Williams wasted no time in pulling up for an 18-footer over Hamilton to tie the score 106-106 with 26.6 seconds to play.
The game went to double overtime as Stuckey missed a three-pointer from the corner with 3.4 seconds left and Williams couldn't get off a shot in time as he tried to drive on Arron Afflalo off an inbounds play.
Korver, meanwhile, redeemed himself in the second overtime. He had been 1-for-7 for the night and committed a turnover in the backcourt as the Jazz blew a six-point lead in the final two minutes of the fourth quarter, but came through when needed.
"I wasn't exactly shooting the ball well," Korver said, "but I kept on telling myself, 'There's going to be a big one, just get ready to take it.'"
Williams helped the Jazz overcome a 12-point deficit in the second quarter and a seven-point hole in the fourth. He scored 15 points in the last 6:28 of the first half, pulling up for a three-pointer over Hamilton just before the buzzer.
Jazz coach Jerry Sloan called it Williams' "quickest" game since returning. It also was the Jazz's second consecutive victory on this pre-Christmas trip, following their 22-point comeback Wednesday against New Jersey.
"We're getting the shots that we want to get and making plays down the stretch," Williams said, "which is the most promising because that's something we haven't been doing the last couple weeks."
There was no prize for the Jazz's first double-overtime victory since January 2002, with the team forced to stay overnight in Detroit thanks to the winter storm that dumped 8 inches of snow. But Williams didn't complain about improving to 7-0 in his career against the Pistons.
"That's special," Williams said. "That's a tough team, a tough place to play. Our styles are kind of similar, so it's always a physical, defensive battle."
In short: The Jazz outlasted the Pistons in double overtime as Deron Williams finished with 29 points in 46 minutes.
Key moment: Kyle Korver hit a three-pointer with 41.3 seconds left in the second overtime to give the Jazz a 116-112 lead.
Key stat: Paul Millsap had 24 poitns and 13 rebounds and played a career-high 51 minutes.
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