No Cade Cunningham. No Isaiah Stewart. No Saddiq Bey. No problem.
The Detroit Pistons, battered by injuries, pulled off their second road upset in as many nights by defeating the Utah Jazz at Vivent Arena, 125-116, on Wednesday. After starting the season 0-10 on the road, the Pistons have now won consecutive road games against the second and fifth-best teams in the Western Conference.
It was another balanced effort for Detroit, as Bojan Bogdanovic (23 points, five rebounds), Kevin Knox (season-high 21 points, 6-for-8 from 3), Marvin Bagley III (19 points, 9-for-10 shooting, six rebounds), Alec Burks (18 points) and Jaden Ivey (16 points, six rebounds, five assists) all reached double figures in scoring.
It was a homecoming game for Bogdanovic, who returned to Utah for the first time since being traded in September. He played for the Jazz from 2022-22.
After shooting better than 50% on Sunday against the Sacramento Kings on Sunday and against the Denver Nuggets on Tuesday, the Pistons shot 49.4% on Wednesday and are in the midst of their best offensive stretch of the season despite missing three of their top five players. They’ve also scored at least 120 points in three of their last four games, after crossing the threshold just once in their previous 16 games.
Detroit led by as many as 14 points, but Utah cut the deficit to three with 3:49 to play with a driving layup from Jordan Clarkson. Burks responded on the other end with a clutch 3-pointer, and the Pistons iced the game by going 9-for-10 at the free-throw line in the final two minutes. The Pistons got 58 points from their bench and shot 50% — 12-for-24 — from 3.
Killian Hayes missed the second half with a left calf injury.
Knox stays hot
Early in the fourth quarter, Knox closed out too hard on a 3-point attempt by Jazz wing Simone Fontecchio. The Italian sharpshooter made all three free throws, cutting the Pistons’ lead to three.
Knox responded by doing what he’s done all week — hitting shots. He drew contact at the line and made two free throws the following possession, and then knocked down a 3-pointer, his fourth of the night, to extend the lead to eight.
He proceeded to hit two more 3s in the fourth en route to a season-best 21 points, his third-straight game reaching double figures. He had 17 points during Tuesday’s win over the Nuggets, and 11 during their loss to the Kings. Arguably more than anyone else on the roster, he has benefitted from Detroit’s injury struggles and has made a strong case for himself to remain in the rotation once the team gets healthier.
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Knox’s six 3-pointers and eight attempts were both career-highs. He has been a major factor in Detroit’s unexpected offensive surge this week. He got going early on Wednesday, knocking down two 3-pointers in the final two minutes of the first quarter to help the Pistons build a 30-25 lead at the end of the period.
Hayes exits game with calf injury
Detroit’s injury woes continue to mount, as Hayes left the game during halftime and was slow to return to Detroit’s bench after injuring his calf during the first half. It isn’t clear when the injury occurred, but the third-year guard suffered a hard fall in the final five minutes of the second quarter after falling following a layup attempt.
Hayes had been playing some of the best basketball of his career prior to the injury, shooting 38.3% from 3 during his previous six games. If Hayes misses time, it will leave the Pistons with Ivey and Cory Joseph as their two healthy point guards. Burks can also play point guard, though he’s more natural as a wing.
Contact Omari Sankofa II at email@example.com. Follow him on Twitter @omarisankofa.