Toronto • Ricky Rubio had a request as trainers worked on sealing the gash over his left eye Wednesday night.
Speed up things.
“I wanted to be out there,” he said.
The damage for Rubio was two pieces of tape and some glue on his cut — no stitches necessary after he briefly was taken down in the fourth quarter against the Detroit Pistons. But the damage he inflicted on them was significant in a 98-95 Jazz win. He had 11 points, 10 rebounds, and five assists, including the dish on the game-tying play.
Coach Quin Snyder lauded the rebounds as much as anything in the performance. The Jazz needed guards to step up on the glass on a night when Pistons center Andre Drummond had 24 boards of his own. In Snyder’s words, Rubio “did more than help.”
The all-around contribution might be the future blueprint for Rubio, who has struggled on offense since coming from Minnesota in a summer trade. While his numbers are fairly similar to the ones he posted last season for the Timberwolves, there’s one huge decline. His assists have tailed off from a 9.1 average to 4.8 while turnovers (2.9 tpg) have increased. The net effect of that has been a tenuous start to his time in Utah, with much of his game riding on his hot-or-cold jump shooting.
Rubio recognizes that his first few shots sometimes have affected his overall output. But his assists (5.5) and rebounding (6.3) averages are up in his last four games as he tries to make an impact in other areas of the stat sheet. He’s now had three double-doubles with points and rebounds this season.
“Of course when you don’t feel it as much, you start to find other ways to affect the game and help the team,” he said. “I have to not let my shot affect how I play in the rest of the game. I have to play my game knowing where my strengths are and where are my weaknesses.”
Jazz relieved to win a close one
Snyder said after a rough loss to the last-place Atlanta Hawks that he had a simple message for the Jazz before facing the Pistons: Let’s just compete.
Something caught hold because the Jazz erased a nine-point deficit against Detroit in the final three minutes of regulation on their way to an overtime win. The Jazz wanted to show that they could claw their way to win after a second-half letdown in Atlanta.
“Being down like we were late, it was one of those character wins,” Snyder said. “It was good to win. It was good to play well defensively. Even better to do it under adverse conditions.”
The Jazz are 7-10 in “clutch” situations this season — defined by the NBA as games with a margin under five points in the final five minutes. They’re just 2-7 in those games on the road.
The Jazz hope the win in Detroit lays some groundwork for Utah to have more success in tight situations in the future, even if they find themselves down.
“You got the crowd against you, and you know how the games go. Sometimes the whistles go the other way,” Derrick Favors said. “It was impressive of us to go out there, make stops, make big shots and come out with a win.”
Hood out for Friday
Rodney Hood will miss his fourth game in a row on Friday. The Jazz ruled the shooting guard out late Thursday afternoon with a lower leg contusion.