Utah Jazz head coach Quin Snyder put his whiteboard down.
His team had built a 20-point lead on Sunday afternoon in Detroit but found themselves watching it slowly fade away. With his players huddled around him during a second-half timeout, a heated Snyder left his whiteboard blank as a message to his squad.
“There’s nothing on the clipboard X’s and O’s-wise that was going to change the game,” point guard Mike Conley said. “He put it on us. He’s not drawing up a play. He put it on us to go out there and play hard.”
The Jazz went on to grind out a 96-86 road win over the Detroit Pistons on Sunday afternoon.
“That’s a really good win,” Snyder said afterward. “To not have a good shooting night and win with defense, that’s something I don’t think we’ve done that this year.”
One game after setting a franchise record for 3-pointers, there were stretches when the Utah Jazz couldn’t buy a bucket. All-Star center Rudy Gobert had 4 points. While it wasn’t pretty, Snyder liked what he saw on the court and in the box score.
Utah made just 11 triples but held Detroit to 10. The Jazz dominated the boards (63-39) thanks to a 19-rebound effort from Gobert and a 14-rebound night from Derrick Favors.
“We know there nights when the shot’s not going to fall,” Gobert said. “In previous games we’ve lost, we’ve let that affect our defense. Our identity is a defensive team that runs the floor and spreads the floor. We know when we bring it defensively, we give ourselves a chance to win every night.”
Things didn’t start out rocky for the Jazz in Detroit.
After scoring 32 points to lead the Jazz to victory over the Bucks, Mitchell preached the need for consistency in his performances. “This is what I expect to play like every night,” Mitchell said in Milwaukee. The All-Star guard picked up where he left off Sunday afternoon in Detroit. The Jazz opened the game on a 9-0 run, seven of those points coming from Mitchell. The Jazz guard finished with 13 points in the period.
“He’s worked and developed himself into one of the stars of our league,” Detroit head coach Dwane Casey said of Mitchell. “He can get his own shot at any time. You have to try to make him work and earn every inch on the court, but he’s really grown and developed and made himself into an offensive star.”
But that wouldn’t be the only run of the quarter. A Jordan Clarkson floater late in the first capped a 15-0 run that gave the Jazz a 32-12 advantage.
Detroit’s Jerami Grant had 11 points in the first. He would finish with 28 points.
The Jazz kept the Pistons at arm’s length in the second quarter thanks the steady hand of point guard Mike Conley. Conley scored eight points and dished out three assists in the quarter. The Jazz took a 57-40 into halftime.
The Pistons chipped away at the gap during a sloppy third quarter. Utah went cold, shooting 0-for-7 from deep in the period. Meanwhile, Detroit closed the quarter on an 8-0 run, with Isaiah Stewart’s tip-in cutting the Jazz lead down to 6 in the late seconds of the frame.
Detroit’s Wayne Ellington banked in a 3 to make it a 5-point game with 1:56 to play. But the Jazz responded. On the next two possessions, Gobert blocked Mason Plumlee and Conley coolly sank a pair of free throws on the end to help ice the game.
“I’m very impressed,” Mitchell said of his team’s effort. “We had a few lapses, but the biggest thing is we kept pushing. We’ve had games like this this season … where they’ve come back and won. For us to come back and get this one against a team like this that doesn’t stop playing, it was a pretty good win for us.”
The Jazz are now 6-4 on the season and 5-2 on the road.
| Hot shooting first half + gritty, defensive second half = #podiumpostgame | @podiumhq pic.twitter.com/YagM3HfGEj
— utahjazz (@utahjazz) January 10, 2021
• Sunday’s win was Snyder’s 377th as head coach of the Utah Jazz. He is now tied with Frank Layden for second most coaching wins in franchise history.
• Jazz wing Joe Ingles was back on the court Sunday after Achilles soreness kept him out of action Friday, ending a streak of 384 consecutive regular season games played.
“When you take Joe out, it’s one less playmaker,” Snyder said. “On the defensive end, Joe’s usually taking, if not a top matchup, certainly a secondary matchup. He needed that day off for health reasons, but it’s obviously good to have him back.”
Ingles came off the bench Sunday in Detroit. He finished the game with nine points, five rebounds and two assists in 23 minutes.
• The Pistons were without point guard Derrick Rose, who is averaging 13.9 points and 5.4 assists per game this season in Detroit.
The team’s longest road trip since 2002 continues with their sixth stop and a meeting with the Cleveland Cavaliers. Tipoff is scheduled for Tuesday at 5:30 p.m. MT.