Jazz surrender 22-point lead in shocking loss to Detroit

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SALT LAKE CITY — It shouldn't have ended this way.

It shouldn't have mattered that the Utah Jazz were without Rudy Gobert, Rudy Gay and Joe Ingles. It shouldn't have mattered that it was the last game of a COVID-stricken five-game road trip. The Jazz were up by 22 points on one of the worst teams in the league — and they lost.

Utah left Detroit embarrassed Monday after coughing up a huge lead in a 126-116 loss to the Pistons.

"Well, there's a guy named Rudy Gobert that wasn't out there," Quin Snyder said.

Except, he said that before the game and was referring to Utah's loss to Indiana two days prior. He could have said the same thing after the one Monday night, too.

Without Gobert, Utah's defense collapsed — and that feels like it's putting it lightly.

The Pistons scored 78 points in the second half while shooting 59% from the field. Cade Cunningham, the first pick of the 2021 NBA draft, scored a career-high 29 points and Detroit was 19 of 34 from 3-point range.

Detroit has the second-worst offense in the NBA; but in the second half, they looked like a juggernaut.

Oh, Rudy, where art thou?

"They did a lot of things well in the second half; we didn't do a lot right the second half," Donovan Mitchell said.

Mitchell then paused and with a new frustrated tone, finished: "We got to guard, man. We got to just guard the ball. They really aint much else to it."

It was Utah's third straight loss as it finishes out its five-game road swing with a 2-3 record. The Jazz are now 28-13 on the season.

Mitchell had 31 points on 11-for-25 shooting to go along with four assists. Hassan Whiteside had 21 points and 14 rebounds, but scored just 3 points in the second half as the Pistons ran right past the Jazz.

It was all too simple for Detroit. The Pistons pulled Utah's bigs away from the basket and the Jazz's perimeter defenders couldn't stay in front of anyone. Straight-line drives followed, which led to whatever wide-open shot Detroit wanted. Layups? Sure. Corner 3s? Of course.

Everything was open.

"We all have to be on the same page," Mike Conley said. "And I thought we just weren't as tight as a group. And there's no excuses for who's in or who's out of the lineup."

Cunningham scored 18 of his career-high 29 points in the third quarter. Saddiq Bey added 29 points for Detroit on 10-of-14 shooting (for reference, he's shooting 37% on the season) and Cory Joseph had 16 points. It was the best game of the season for many Pistons players.

"When you don't have Rudy Gobert out there, our intensity has to turn up," Mitchell said. "Like, we did it against Denver. It's there, but if we don't do it consistently, this is going to happen. And this is one through 17 or however many guys we got in the locker room. This isn't just one person of three people or a selective group."

The Jazz didn't help themselves with 10 second-half turnovers, either. A couple early ones led to some easy Detroit buckets, and suddenly the game snowballed out of control.

"Giving them easy layups, easy dunks on the other end, just kind of got them in more of an attack mode," Conley said.

Once they found that gear, the Jazz looked disinterested in trying to stop them. Utah shot 54% from the field in the second half and were still outscored by 23. Detroit went on a 21-8 run in the fourth quarter to put the game away.

"I think we're better defensively than what we showed tonight. I think we can impact some of those shots more," Snyder said.

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