As Jonas Jerebko sank his fifth field goal of the night on the Pistons, something was radiantly clear as he ran back on defense.
He was smiling. Wide.
When you play in 303 games for a team that trades you midseason, you enjoy a good revenge game.
That was plainly what Jerebko dealt Tuesday night, scoring 16 points on 6-of-9 shooting as the Jazz (38-30) poured it on Detroit in a 110-79 win. And if you doubt the motivation, consider that it was his highest-scoring performance since Dec. 15. That night, the Jazz beat Boston — where Jerebko played last year.
“It’s always a little special playing your former team,” he said with a smirk. “I just got it going a little bit. Might’ve had a little extra energy. I don’t know.”
Of course, every big game is special for Jerebko lately. Since the Jazz added Jae Crowder to the fold, his minutes have bobbed and weaved. During that stretch, he’s played as few as eight minutes and as many as 20.
But as Quin Snyder has tightened the rotation, Jerebko has remained an essential piece: a floor-spacer who can rebound, and who, at his best, is a competent defender. And to keep churning out wins in an incredibly tight playoff race, the Jazz need him at his best.
“Jonas has to stay focused on the things that make Jonas effective,” Snyder said. “That means quick decisions, catch and shoot 3s, swing the ball and chase it, just his activity on offense, his cutting is really good. And I think on the defensive end, he’s taken a lot more pride in being solid.”
The Pistons gave Jerebko no such respect. After a behind-the-back dish from Crowder led to his first 3, Jerebko found himself unguarded on his next two attempts in the corner. He made both.
Maybe Detroit thought it knew Jerebko. It should’ve done more homework.
“Hey, that’s on their scouting report,” he said. “I’m still shooting 40 percent. You need to get out there and get a hand up.”