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Jazz look to keep rolling against Pistons
SALT LAKE CITY -- There may not be a hotter team in the NBA right now than the Utah Jazz.
The Jazz keep finding new ways to win as they draw closer to cementing themselves in one of the eight NBA playoff spots up for grabs in the Western Conference. They posted a 3-0 mark on their latest road trip and have won 11 straight games away from home.
Utah heads into Tuesday's clash with Detroit as winners in 18 of their last 20 games. A 98-95 overtime win over the Pistons on Jan. 24 started it all. In that game, the Jazz rallied from a nine-point deficit over the final 3:17 of the fourth quarter to get the victory.
Utah's latest triumph, a 116-99 win over New Orleans on Sunday, also came on the strength of a second-half comeback. Donovan Mitchell scored 15 straight points over the final minutes of the third quarter to help the Jazz rally from a double-digit deficit.
Mitchell, who had only two points before his outburst, finished with 27 points -- his 34th game with 20 or more points this season.
"It's great. It tells you a lot about him," Jazz point guard Ricky Rubio, who led Utah with 30 points, 10 rebounds and seven assists, told the Salt Lake Tribune after the game. "A rookie could just give up and say it wasn't his night. He kept putting us in the game, and actually he won that game for us in that stretch."
The Jazz rallied after shooting just 29 percent from the floor in the first half. Their resiliency, unselfishness and camaraderie since getting Rudy Gobert back from injury in January continues to please coach Quin Snyder.
"It's not just that they're playing with each other, they're playing for each other," Snyder told the Salt Lake Tribune. "In that third quarter when we were down by nine, I thought you saw some character from our group."
Detroit heads to Utah in desperate need of positive momentum to keep from sliding completely out of the playoff race in the Eastern Conference.
The Pistons have lost 10 of 13 games and snapped a four-game losing streak with a 99-83 win over Chicago on Friday. They haven't won two games in a row since early February. Detroit's lack of success has turned up the heat on Pistons coach Stan Van Gundy, who also serves as the team's President of Basketball Operations.
Pistons owner Tom Gores made it clear that Van Gundy's return next season is not guaranteed if the results don't improve.
"It's about what happened this year, what we're gonna do, our future," Gores told the Detroit News on Friday. "Stan's a team player. We're not winning enough, so we have to talk about that."
Detroit has the bodies up front to contend with Utah's frontcourt duo of Gobert and Derrick Favors. Blake Griffin and Reggie Bullock have been a good tandem at forward. They have combined to average 41.8 points, 10.6 rebounds and 8.4 assists in March. Their presence is heightening Andre Drummond's impact on the glass. He is averaging 16.0 rebounds per game this month.
Van Gundy likes the fit he is seeing between Griffin and Bullock so far.
"I would say it's two good players that know how to play basketball and that chemistry comes pretty quickly," Van Gundy told reporters on Friday. "Those two guys have really developed a good chemistry."
Updated March 12, 2018