SALT LAKE CITY — On Jan. 10, the Detroit Pistons took advantage of a Rudy Gobert-less Utah Jazz team win, 126-116, at Little Caesars Arena, 126-116.
On Friday, the Pistons couldn’t repeat the feat against a Donovan Mitchell-less Jazz team on the road.
The Pistons lost, 111-101, at Vivant Arena. A floater from Josh Jackson cut Detroit deficit to one midway through the fourth quarter, but Utah closed the game with a 16-7 run. The Pistons won the third quarter by a 30-27 margin but slumped in the fourth, shooting 38.1% in the final period.
Cade Cunningham filled up the stat sheet, scoring a game-high 25 points to go with six rebounds, five assists, three blocks and two steals. Trey Lyles and Rodney McGruder added 16 and 15 points, respectively.
Gobert led Utah with 24 points, 14 rebounds and four blocks.
Jazz superstar Mitchell missed the game with a concussion. Killian Hayes missed his second-consecutive game for the Pistons with a right hip contusion.
Cade Cunningham plays strong two-way game
After playing only 20 minutes in Wednesday’s win in Sacramento due to foul trouble, Cunningham came out swinging against Utah. He put together one of his best offensive first halves of the season, scoring 19 points and making seven of his first eight shots. Cunningham went cold after, missing seven of his next eight and shooting just 4-for-12 in the second half. But Friday was also one of his best defensive performances of the year, and his defense remained strong as he went cold after halftime.
Cunningham’s best play of the night was a transition block on Royce O’Neal with 2:55 left in the fourth quarter. He stayed with O’Neal during the entire trip down the floor, and eliminated the shot with his right hand. Beyond the block, Cunningham consistently made smart rotations and used his length to bother shots.
Rodney McGruder maintains hot streak
It’s been an eventful two weeks for Rodney McGruder, who was traded to the Denver Nuggets on Jan. 10 and spend a day-and-a-half with his new team before moving back to Detroit after the trade was voided. McGruder took the entire experience in stride while addressing the media earlier this week. That wasn’t his first trade. He knows how the NBA works.
Call it a coincidental hot streak. Call it an encore. Whatever the reason behind it is, McGruder is now playing his best stretch of basketball with the Pistons. In his previous two games entering Friday — his first two games with Detroit since the almost-trade — he scored a combined 34 points on 13-for-20 overall shooting.
McGruder kept that streak going against the Jazz, scoring 15 points and making five of seven 3-point attempts. He’s been Detroit’s most consistent performer this week, and is making a case for more minutes.
Contact Omari Sankofa II at firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow him on Twitter @omarisankofa. The Free Press has started a new digital subscription model. Here’s how you can gain access to our most exclusive Pistons content. Read more on the Detroit Pistons and sign up for our Pistons newsletter.
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