SALT LAKE CITY (ABC4 Sports) – The Utah Jazz got on a roll around this time last season, and they look like they are getting hot again.
Western Conference Player of the Week Donovan Mitchell scored 28 points, while Rudy Gobert added 18 points and matched a career high with 25 rebounds, as the Jazz held off the Detroit Pistons Monday night, 100-94.
The Jazz (24-21) fourth win in a row matches a season high as they move into sole possession of the final playoff spot in the Western Conference.
Kyle Korver had 19 points, his highest point total since being traded back to the Jazz.
Mitchell has poured in at least 26 points in six consecutive games, the best such stretch of his career.
“Dig deep,” Mitchell said. “Obviously it’s tough when they get out to a lead, but we never stop fighting. We finally came out in the second half, and started to defend.”
“This was the persistence that you have to have if you’re not having a good shooting night,” head coach Quin Snyder said. “You have to defend and we did that in the second half. We trusted each other a lot more defensively and if you throw yourself into the game, usually something good happens.”
Blake Griffin scored 19 points and Andre Drummond contributed 15 points and 13 rebounds for Detroit, which has lost five of six.
The Pistons hounded Mitchell full court and forced him to spend a lot of energy throughout the game just to receive the ball and get to his spots.
Mitchell was 1 for 7 over a 14-minute span of the third and fourth quarters and looked worn down. But the second-year guard made a scintillating drive and three-point play with 48.9 seconds to play for a 95-89 Utah lead.
Joe Ingles, who had 13 points, shut the door on the Pistons with a 3 with 24.2 seconds left that made it 98-91. As the ball went through the hoop, he turned around and blew a kiss to the crowd.
After the Jazz trailed for most of the game, Derrick Favors capped a 13-0 run with a follow dunk to give Utah a 66-62 lead. But the Pistons surged back in front and led 82-78 on Reggie Jackson’s floater in the lane.
The Pistons led by 12 in the first half despite sending the Jazz to the foul line 24 times and attempting only six free throws themselves. Detroit forced 10 turnovers that led to 16 points and had a 59-53 at the break.
For the third straight game, Utah played without a true point guard. Ricky Rubio (hamstring), Dante Exum (ankle) and Raul Neto (groin) were out with injuries.
“You never want guys to be hurt but in the big picture, this always plays out for the betterment of the team because guys get opportunities,” said Korver. “This is a time for us to tinker and try a bunch of things out and it’s been working the last few games.”
Without a point guard, the Jazz found themselves in unfamiliar positions and driving lanes, often up against the shot clock. The Pistons’ defense produced 18 turnovers by cutting off paths to the hoop and picking off desperate passes.
The Jazz next play at the L.A. Clippers Wednesday night.