DETROIT (ABC4 Sports) – The Detroit Pistons came into Monday’s game against the Jazz as one of the worst three-point shooting teams in the NBA.
But against Utah, they looked like one of the best.
Detroit made 51 percent of its shots from beyond the arc, handing the Jazz its third straight loss, 126-116.
Utah came into last week with three road losses all season. But now they’ve dropped three straight on the road.
Cade Cunningham scored 18 of his career-high 29 points in the third quarter to help the Detroit Pistons erase a 22-point deficit and put up 78 points in the second half.
Donovan Mitchell scored 31 points for Utah, and Hassan Whiteside had a season-high 21 points as well as 14 rebounds.
“Give them credit, because they did a lot of good things in the second half, but we didn’t do much right at all in the second half,” Mitchell said. “They made a lot of shots, but we were making it too easy for them. You can’t get up more than 20 points and lose. You just can’t.”
Utah (28-13), which had won 10 straight against the Pistons, led by 22 in the second quarter but was outscored 94-62 in the final 2 1/2 quarters. Rudy Gobert was still out in health and safety protocols, but Utah coach Quinn Snyder didn’t use that as an excuse.
“When you don’t have the defensive player of the year on the floor, you aren’t going to be as good,” Snyder said. “But we are still good enough to do a lot better than we did in the second half of the game. There’s no reason for us to play as poorly as we did.”
Utah trailed 90-84 in the first minute of the fourth quarter, but scored the next nine points to take a 3-point lead with 9:53 to play. Trey Lyles and Cory Joseph hit back-to-back 3-pointers to put Detroit up 102-96, and although Utah scored on its next two possessions, Cunningham answered with a 3-pointer, a layup and a free throw.
That put Detroit up 108-100, and the Jazz never got back within one possession.
Jazz guard Mike Conley said there were numerous defensive breakdowns in the second half.
“We weren’t communicating about when we needed to help and when we needed to stay in place,” he said, “There were too many possessions where we were leaving guys wide open for easy baskets.”
The Jazz led 54-32 midway through the second quarter, thanks to 18 points from Whiteside. The Pistons answered with a 16-6 run. It was 61-48 at the half. Cunningham continued the Detroit rally in the third, putting up 18 points and three assists as the Pistons took the lead.
Saddiq Bey added 29 points for Detroit, which is 4-2 in 2022 after finishing 2021 with 18 losses in 19 games. Lead assistant coach Rex Kalamian took charge with coach Dwane Casey having entered COVID-19 protocol.
“That’s the first game ball I’ve gotten in 28 years,” said Kalamian, who has been an NBA assistant coach since 1995. “I wanted to get the win for the players, but it is a great feeling to get my first one as a head coach.”
After a 2-3 road trip, the Jazz come home to host Cleveland on Wednesday.