'Tough' Christian Wood stars again but Pistons fall short against Jazz
Detroit — It was a good run in the second half, while it lasted.
The Pistons were down by double digits for most of the game but just stuck around. They made a few shots, but the Utah Jazz made more.
Then came the comeback in the third quarter, a 34-24 advantage that trimmed the deficit to 79-73 entering the final period. The shooting touch froze in the fourth quarter, as the Pistons went 5:30 without a field goal and the Jazz found the right tune, taking a 111-105 victory on Saturday night at Little Caesars Arena.
It’s the third straight loss and 10th in the last 11 games for the Pistons (20-44), who play their next three games on the road: at the Knicks, 76ers and Raptors next week.
Christian Wood notched a career high in scoring for the second straight game. After scoring 29 in Wednesday’s loss to the Oklahoma City Thunder, Wood followed with 30 points and 11 rebounds against the Jazz.
“He’s tough; he’s street tough,” coach Dwane Casey said. “I really liked the way he got in there and mixed it up in the paint. We’ve just got to get some other guys in there to help him.
“He needed a blow (early in the fourth quarter) and I didn’t want to take him out, but he needed a blow there when they went on that run after it was 79-79.”
Langston Galloway and Jordan McRae had 14 points each and Brandon Knight added 13 points.
The Pistons tied it at 79 with a 6-0 run to start the fourth quarter, with a lay-in by Wood and an alley-oop from Bruce Brown, who scored on the next possession, with 10:38 left. It was the last field goal the Pistons got for more than five minutes, as the Jazz surged behind Bojan Bogdanovic (32 points) and Donovan Mitchell (25 points).
The Jazz (41-22) went on a 19-3 run, with seven points by Mitchell and five by Bogdanovic, while the Pistons managed just a pair of free throws by McRae and one by Wood. The Pistons’ next field goal came on a McRae jumper at 5:08, trimming the lead to 98-84.
McRae had a three-point play and another jumper, starting another Pistons surge, an 18-5 bulge that got them within 105-102 with 42.1 seconds left, following a 3-pointer by Brandon Knight and a basket by Knight.
The Jazz put it away with six free throws in the final 20 seconds — two by Rudy Gobert (10 points and 12 rebounds) and four by Mitchell.
The Jazz led, 47-25, midway through the second quarter and looked to be on their way to making it a blowout, but the Pistons rallied behind Wood, who had six points in the closing minutes to get within 55-39 at halftime.
It was another instance of falling into too big of a deficit in the first half and having to battle back in the second half.
“It’s like we get down and we get a sense of urgency that we should’ve had when it was 0-0,” McRae said. “We are a young team and that’s something we are going to have to fix, but credit to us for playing hard and battling back.”