The Utah Jazz are hardly thrilled with their up-and-down start, but they couldn’t be more pleased with the victory that gave them back-to-back wins for the first time.
They have to feel even better about their chances to stretch their streak to three.
The Jazz have won eight straight games against the Detroit Pistons, a run they’ll look to extend Saturday night in Salt Lake City as they try to hand the Pistons a fourth consecutive loss.
Utah (6-6) had alternated wins and losses in its past eight games heading into San Antonio on Thursday, and based on that pattern, it was due for a loss after defeating Toronto one night earlier.
That seemed even likelier considering the Jazz had lost 20 straight in San Antonio since a win there in 1999. Utah only had nine healthy players but ended the drought anyway, getting 21 points and 10 assists from Deron Williams(notes) and 20 points from Paul Millsap(notes) off the bench in a 90-83 victory.
“It was nice from my standpoint to get a win in this building before I die,” Jazz coach Jerry Sloan said.
Mehmet Okur(notes) has missed two straight games with the flu, and two members of its makeshift frontcourt - Wesley Matthews(notes) and Kyrylo Fesenko(notes) - have averaged a total of 8.0 points. Carlos Boozer(notes), though, has stepped up, averaging 20.0 points and 14.5 rebounds.
“I’m having a lot of fun out there,” Boozer told the NBA’s official Web site after his fourth straight double-double Thursday. “We’re on a roll, and we’re just going to have to continue to grind. I’m loose.”
Boozer missed both meetings with the Pistons (5-7) last season, but Okur, who should return Saturday, stepped up in his absence. Okur averaged 24.0 points in leading the Jazz to two victories, increasing their streak over his former team to eight by scoring 22 in 21 minutes of a 99-82 home win Jan. 10.
“We play good against them here and also up there,” said Okur, originally a second-round pick by the Pistons in 2001. “Hopefully, we’re going to keep doing what we’re doing.”
Detroit certainly doesn’t want to keep playing like it has lately, but it found some positives Wednesday despite a third straight loss. The Pistons fell 106-93 to the Los Angeles Lakers on Tuesday to kick off their four-game trip and trailed Portland 70-50 after three quarters a night later, but outscored the Trail Blazers 31-17 in the fourth of the 87-81 loss.
“It’s been kind of the theme, we dig ourselves into a big hole and then try to dig ourselves out,” said forward Charlie Villanueva(notes), who had 20 points in just 16 minutes due to early foul trouble. “We need to play 48 minutes of basketball. If we play together and get open shots, we should be fine.”
Ben Gordon(notes) has been looking to step up, but during the three-game losing streak his shot has been off. Gordon, Detroit’s leading scorer at 21.2 points, has averaged 11.3 points on 27.9 percent shooting over the past week.