In 32 minutes of reserve play, Giricek made a variety of
long-range jumpers and driving floaters to score 24 points and lead
Utah past the Detroit Pistons 94-86 Monday night.
"I felt strong and I felt good shooting tonight. I feel like I
belong," Giricek said after the Jazz secured their fourth straight
The 6-foot-6 Croatian had his best game since coming to the Jazz
in a trade from Orlando for DeShawn Stevenson six games ago.
Giricek made 10 of 17 shots, including all four of his 3-point
Andrei Kirilenko, who has been scoring more than 23 points a
game since the All-Star break, struggled offensively, but knew what
he needed to do: Get it to the man making the shots.
"I was frustrated offensively," said Kirilenko, who still
managed 11 points, eight rebounds, six blocks and four steals. "So
I try to find somebody who feels hot. Giricek felt very good and
was shooting great, so I just try to screen for him and get him
some open shots."
When Giricek wasn't scoring, Aleksandar Pavlovic, another
shooter from Eastern Europe, was coming off screens and hitting
shots, ending up with 15 points.
Rasheed Wallace scored 27 points in his best outing since
arriving in Detroit from Portland. Chauncey Billups had 17, but the
Pistons came away empty time after time late in the game as the
Jazz snapped Detroit's four-game winning streak.
"They made shots and we didn't. That was it," said Richard
Hamilton, who had 10 points before fouling out.
Carlos Arroyo had 13 points and eight assists as the Jazz moved
one game above .500 for the first time since losing a pair to San
Antonio a month ago.
"I thought tonight was a terrific game for us ... we got good
shots almost every possession," Utah coach Jerry Sloan said.
Detroit led 82-80 when Kirilenko returned to the court after
sitting with five fouls and immediately sparked the Jazz with a
tip-in. Giricek hit a 3-pointer and a layup down the stretch and
Kirilenko capped the 14-4 game-ending run with a drive to beat the
shot clock in the final minute.
"They made us play defense until they got a good open shot,"
Tayshaun Prince said.
Kirilenko also seemed to be everywhere on the defensive end as
the Pistons shot 5-for-18 in the fourth quarter.
"Andrei was terrific down the stretch. I thought our guys did a
terrific job helping each other," Sloan said.
Greg Ostertag, who shoots less than 60 percent from the line,
made all eight of his free throws in the rugged game featuring lots
of holding and pushing. Both teams disrupted the offensive flow and
spent nearly every dead ball talking to the referees.
"We got away from executing and, you know, too many unforced
turnovers and we just threw this one away. We didn't get stops down
the stretch," Ben Wallace said.
Neither team led by more than eight points the entire game. The
Jazz didn't pull ahead in the second half until Jarron Collins
muscled in a shot with 6:12 to play.
Detroit faltered in the second of its five-game road trip, its
longest stretch away from home this season. The Pistons had a
four-game winning string broken against the Jazz, including a 96-75
blowout on Dec. 21.<
^Notes: Ben Wallace and Kirilenko, the teams' starting power
forwards, were selected the Eastern and Western Conference players
of the week, respectively, before the game. ... Detroit dropped to
12-7 in second games of back-to-back sets. ... Ben Wallace had only
nine points, the first time he failed to score in double figures in
the last 13 games. ... The Jazz, who had 29 fouls, lead the league
in fouls per game and have averaged 30 fouls the last five games.
... Utah had lost four of five at home after starting 19-6.