Pistons vs Jazz Game Preview - January 17, 2014
Regular Season Game #39Josh Smith closed out a victory in the Detroit Pistons' previous game. Next they hope he can help halt their nearly decade-long struggles against the Utah Jazz.
Detroit seeks just its second win in 16 meetings Friday night when it hosts Utah, which could be without Gordon Hayward again.
The Pistons' lone victory in the last 15 matchups dating to the start of the 2005-06 season was a 120-116 final in Detroit on Feb. 26, 2011.
Smith, in his first season with the Pistons (16-22), averaged 18.6 points and 10.3 rebounds for Atlanta in his last eight games against Utah. The Hawks won seven of those matchups.
The Pistons have had five days off since their last game, a 110-108 home victory over Phoenix.
Smith hit a driving left-handed bank shot with 1.2 seconds left, lifting the Pistons to their second win in a row after a season-high six-game skid. He put Detroit ahead moments earlier with a 3-pointer as the shot clock expired, though he fouled Gerald Green on a 3-pointer on the Suns' ensuing possession to allow Phoenix to pull even.
Smith had 25 points and 11 rebounds for his third double-double in four games after recording just one in his first 34 contests.
"This is a great game for us, to be able to see how mentally strong we can be," said Smith, who is scoring 18.7 points per game over his last 14 - 4.9 more than he had been averaging. "We've just got to be able to reflect on these games and apply it to the games that we have in front of us."
The Jazz (13-27) have lost four straight road games and are 5-16 away from home. Despite being without Hayward on Wednesday at San Antonio they still gave the Spurs some trouble in a 109-105 defeat as they closed on a 21-9 run.
Hayward, Utah's leading scorer with 17.1 points per game, has sat out three straight contests due to a strained hip flexor and is listed as a game-time decision for Friday. He was averaging 27.0 points while shooting 60.4 percent from the floor in the three games before his injury.
Utah stayed competitive against the Spurs thanks to a career-high 25 points from reserve Enes Kanter and a strong performance from Trey Burke down the stretch. The point guard tallied 11 of his 17 points and five of his 11 assists in the fourth quarter.
"It just shows who (Burke) is," coach Tyrone Corbin said. "There is not a moment that is too big for him. He relishes in those moments. We are going to need him to continue to grow in those moments." Burke's 13.6 points per game would rank third among rookies if he had played enough games to qualify, while his 5.6 assists would be the second-highest average.
The Jazz were 1-11 as he missed time at the start of the season following finger surgery. They're 12-16 when he plays.