Pistons look for momentum vs. visiting Jazz

NBA Basketball

Jerami Grant signed with the Detroit Pistons in large part because he wanted an expanded offensive role.

The Pistons have won only two of their first nine games but Grant is proving he can handle the added responsibility.

Grant established a new career high with 31 points against Milwaukee on Wednesday, then duplicated that output in a 110-105 overtime victory over Phoenix on Friday. The Pistons will look for more of the same from their new go-to scorer when they host Utah on Sunday.

The Jazz have won the last eight meetings. Detroit will be seeking its first victory over Utah since Jan. 25, 2016.

Grant accepted a three-year, $60 million contract offer from Detroit in free agency. His former team, Denver, offered a similar contract but he’d have remained behind Nikola Jokic, Jamal Murray and others in the Nuggets’ offensive pecking order. The two teams agreed to a sign-and-trade after Grant committed to the Pistons.

“I’m very impressed with his patience and his decision-making in games,” fellow Pistons forward Blake Griffin said. “He doesn’t settle. He’ll size somebody up and seems like he can get to the hole whenever he wants.”

Behind Grant, the Pistons erased a 23-point deficit against the Suns. Phoenix still led by four late in regulation before Grant made two free throws and assisted on a Mason Plumlee dunk. Grant scored seven points in overtime, including a corner 3-pointer with 18.1 seconds remaining to give Detroit a six-point lead.

He’s averaging 24.8 points, placing him among the league’s top 20 scorers.

“I thought he played big time – played like an All-Star,” coach Dwane Casey said. “He allowed the game to come to him. He didn’t have a lot of looks at first. He let the game come to him and I’m just as proud of him for that as anything. He didn’t get frustrated.”

The overtime win began a stretch of four consecutive home games for Detroit.

The Jazz are in the midst of a seven-game road trip. They bounced back from two consecutive losses by blasting Milwaukee 131-118 on Friday. Utah set a franchise record with 25 3-pointers on 53 attempts.

“That’s the strength of our team,” Jazz head coach Quin Snyder said. “We’ve got a lot of guys that can make those shots. It’s something we’ve been banging that drum from the first day. We want guys to take threes.”

The Jazz accomplished the feat without one of the best perimeter players. Joe Ingles’ streak of 384 consecutive regular-season games played ended due to a sore right Achilles.

“There’s been a lot of times that he’s played through pain and probably an injury that he hasn’t told us about at times,” Snyder said. “Obviously, you miss a player in the short run like Joe, but he’ll be back. He’s just got to get healthy and we try to do what we can do to make up for not having him.”

A handful of Jazz players knocked down at least four 3-pointers against the Bucks. Donovan Mitchell scored a season-high 32 points and sixth man Jordan Clarkson also enjoyed his best offensive performance of the young season with 26 points.

–Field Level Media

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