AUBURN HILLS, Mich. — When the Utah Jazz fell behind by 15 points on Saturday, the Detroit Pistons should have been concerned. No team knows how to wipe out deficits like the Jazz.
Utah erased Detroit’s lead before the end of the third quarter, led by 13 late, then held off the Pistons’ furious rally for a 90-87 victory at The Palace. Utah has won an NBA-high 10 games after trailing by double figures. No other team has six such victories this season.
“We don’t give in. We don’t crack,” said Utah guard Randy Foye, who had 17 points. “Some nights, we might not have it offensively, but we always give effort and try to play as hard as we can on the defensive end.”
The Jazz (20-19) forced 10 second-half turnovers and held Detroit to 11 third-quarter points. The inside duo of Al Jefferson and Paul Millsap provided the offensive punch with 23 second-half points. Jefferson finished with 20 points and 10 rebounds while Millsap had 17 points and seven rebounds.
Utah bounced back from an eight-point loss at Atlanta on Friday in which it squandered a 15-point lead.
“This team has shown a lot of resilience all year,” Jazz coach Ty Corbin said. “It’s a proud group and when we don’t play our best basketball, we want to come back the next night. Although we started out not playing our best, I thought our effort was hard. We made some mistakes, but in the second half, especially in that third quarter, our defense moved up to another level. As a result, we were able to get our hands on some balls and make some shots after that.”
Brandon Knight led the Pistons (14-24), who had won seven of their last nine games, with 16 points but missed a potential game-tying 3-pointer as the buzzer sounded. Will Bynum had 13 points, all in the fourth quarter.
Detroit center Greg Monroe added 12 points but only had two in the second half and made five of his seven turnovers after halftime.
“From the second quarter on, we weren’t very good defensively,” Detroit coach Lawrence Frank said. “We allowed them to shoot 59 percent, if you go from the second quarter on. Then, I thought we started to play some frustration basketball offensively.”
Jefferson and Millsap combined for 16 third-quarter points as the Jazz outscored the Pistons 25-11 and grabbed a 64-61 lead. That was a complete turnaround from the previous night for Detroit, which outscored Milwaukee 33-11 in the third en route to a 16-point victory.
“Some open shots that we had, we didn’t knock down,” Pistons forward Jason Maxiell said. “They had some easy layups and dunks in the fourth as well. When it came down to it, it was still a close game.”
Jefferson scored eight points during a 15-2 Jazz run that tied the game at 56-56. He soon gave his club its first lead, 60-59, on a 16-foot jumper with 1:52 left in the quarter.
Detroit tied it in the first four minutes of the fourth quarter despite two Jefferson dunks. A Foye 3-pointer then kicked off a 12-2 Utah outburst that gave it an 83-74 advantage with 4:54 remaining.
Alec Burks’ jumper gave the Jazz a seemingly comfortable 88-75 lead with 3:26 remaining. Then Bynum sparked Detroit’s comeback, and when his steal led to a Knight layup with 27.1 seconds left Utah’s lead was down to 89-87.
“We relaxed,” said Jazz swingman Gordon Hayward, who had 12 points. “We’ve lost five or six games being up by 10 or more points, too. It happened to us last night, so we’ve got to be able to finish games.”
Millsap made one of two free throws with 4.1 seconds remaining for a three-point advantage. Knight then missed his contested 3-pointer from the left side.
NOTES: The Jazz has won 13 of the last 14 meetings. The teams will meet again March 11 in Utah, where the Pistons haven’t won since Nov. 6, 2002. … Jazz point guard Jamaal Tinsley did not play in the second half because of an illness. He was scoreless in six minutes. … Utah plays 10 of its next 12 games at home, beginning with Miami on Monday. … Jazz forward Marvin Williams missed his third straight game with right knee inflammation. He could return sometime next week, according to Corbin. … Both teams shot above 50 percent and had the same number of rebounds (32), assists (21) and fouls (22). … Detroit guard Rodney Stuckey had nine points, leaving him two shy of 5,000 for his career.