'Don't let go of the rope': Pistons rally too late in 117-105 defeat to Jazz

Rod Beard
The Detroit News
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Even when they lose, the Pistons are finding ways to make games interesting.

In their matchup against the Utah Jazz, they got off to a slow start in the first quarter and fell behind by double digits. The deficit built to 28 points just before halftime, but the Pistons kept chipping away throughout the second half.

Utah Jazz center Rudy Gobert (27) and Detroit Pistons center Mason Plumlee (24) battle for a rebound in the first half.

With a surge early in the fourth quarter, and the Pistons got within single digits in the final minutes, but they fell short in their comeback attempt, dropping a 117-105 loss to the Utah Jazz on Tuesday night at Vivint Arena.

Jerami Grant had 27 points, four rebounds and three blocks, Josh Jackson 22 points and eight rebounds and Mason Plumlee 17 points and 14 rebounds for the Pistons (5-16), who next face the Phoenix Suns on Friday.

BOX SCORE: Jazz 117, Pistons 105

Coach Dwane Casey wasn’t happy with the energy level that seemed to wane as the deficit increased, and during a timeout early in the third quarter.

“Compete. That's all we have to hang our hat on,” Casey said. “Compete. Fight. Scratch. No altitude problems — I don't want to hear about that. Compete together, stay together. Don't give in to adversity; don't let go of the rope.

“I just felt like they weren't (competing), and I let the guys know it, and they responded.”

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In the fourth quarter, the Jazz (16-5) looked to be on cruise control with a comfortable lead, but the Pistons got within 109-105 at the 2:06 mark, following a 10-1 run, keyed by five points from Grant and a 3-pointer from Jackson.

Utah’s Bogdan Bogdanovic ended the rally with back-to-back 3-pointers, pushing the lead back to 10 in the final minute and ending any hopes of a surprise win.

Donovan Mitchell led the charge with 32 points and six rebounds, Mike Conley Jr. had 20 points and five assists and Bogdanovic 18 points for the Jazz, who got back on a winning track after their 11-game win streak was snapped on Sunday.

The Pistons got into an early hole in the first quarter, after Conley started with a 3-pointer and a floater and Mitchell added a 3-pointer and a lay-in after a basket by Blake Griffin (11 points). The Jazz pushed the lead to 10 with a short jumper from Bogdanovic. They had another flurry and the

Pistons stayed within 11 after the first quarter.

The Jazz had an 8-0 run near the end of the second quarter to push the lead to 69-41 by Griffin had a three-point play and Delon Wright hit a basket with two seconds left for a five-point deficit at halftime.

In the third quarter, the Pistons turned the tables and got off to a good start, with a 17-4 spurt. Mitchell answered with a 3-pointer and a lay-in and Royce O’Neale (12 points and 13 rebounds) hit a 3-pointers to get the lead back to 24.

The bench played well for the Pistons, continuing to chip away at the lead, and Plumlee’s basket with 3.1 seconds left helped trim the lead to 94-77 entering the final period.

“We put ourselves in position to win against one of the best teams in our league,” Casey said.  “That's all we can ask for right now, at this stage of our program, is the compete level, the growth. I thought the young guys came in and played their hearts out. They played to exhaustion.”

Derrick Rose didn’t play in the game, after not being listed on the injury report. Casey said the issue was an upset stomach, which caught them off guard.

Rod.Beard@detroitnews.com

Twitter: @detnewsRodBeard

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