AUBURN HILLS, Mich. (AP) -- The Utah Jazz seem to have a secret
that the rest of the NBA would love for them to share.
The problem is, the Jazz aren't sure why they appear to be the
only team in the NBA that the Detroit Pistons can't beat.
Andrei Kirilenko had 24 points and 11 rebounds, and former
Pistons player Mehmet Okur added 13 points and 17 rebounds as the
Jazz beat Detroit for the second time this season, 94-90 in
overtime Saturday night.
"I guess they have to lose to somebody, don't they?" Kirilenko
asked. "I don't know. It isn't like we need any extra motivation
when we are playing the best team in basketball."
The win gave Utah a season-series sweep of Detroit and almost as
many wins against the Pistons (2) as the rest of the NBA combined
(3). The 26-5 Pistons, losers for just the second time in 13 games,
had their 10-game home winning streak snapped.
"Even after playing them twice, and going to overtime tonight,
I still can't get a good feeling about why we have problems with
them," Chauncey Billups said. "They keep you off-balance and they
are very disciplined. They are just a well-coached team."
The Pistons led in the extra period until Okur's 3-pointer gave
Utah an 88-86 edge with 2:33 to go. After Tayshaun Prince missed,
Greg Ostertag's dunk gave the Jazz a four-point advantage.
Rasheed Wallace's jumper cut the margin in half, but Okur
rebounded Deron Williams' miss at the other end, then was fouled by
Wallace. Milt Palacio made a jumper, which was answered by Ben
Wallace, making it 92-90.
"Palacio, Williams and Ostertag all hurt us in overtime,"
Pistons coach Flip Saunders said. "Those aren't the guys you would
Palacio then iced the game with a driving layup with 4.6 seconds
"Those shots, the jumper and the layup, were pretty big, I
guess," he said. "I felt they were leaving me a little at that
point, so if I was just aggressive, I felt I could do something."
Billups scored 19 of his 24 points after halftime, and Richard
Hamilton added 18. Ben Wallace had 16 rebounds, but just four
Williams had 14 points for Utah off the bench.
Detroit led 30-14 after one quarter, holding Utah to 30 percent
from the floor, but the Jazz got back into the game in the second
quarter. Utah was as close as 36-34 before the Pistons finished the
half with a 8-2 run. Antonio McDyess had 10 points off the bench
for Detroit and Kirilenko had 14 for Utah.
"We've had a lot of games like this," Kirilenko said. "We
start slow, get down by 15 or 20, and then we start playing. We're
Utah took its first lead at 54-53 on Okur's free throw after a
technical on Rasheed Wallace late in the third.
The Pistons, though, scored the next eight points, including
3-pointers by Billups and Hamilton, and led 65-55 at quarter's end.
The Jazz got within 73-70 on Osterag's layup with 6:17 left,
then tied the game at 75 on five straight points by Deron Williams
with 3:34 to go.
The game was tied at 80 when Williams missed with 1:04 to go.
Billups missed twice at the other end, but Hamilton and Tayshaun
Prince kept the possession alive with offensive rebounds.
Williams then made what appeared to be a rookie mistake with 21
seconds to go, fouling Billups, one of the league's best free-throw
After Billups made both shots, Prince fouled Kirilenko on a
drive, and his two free throws tied it again with 15 seconds to go.
Billups missed a high-arcing underhanded layup at the buzzer.
"It was a high pick-and-roll, but I slipped coming around the
corner," he said. "All I could do was try that long finger
Prince, Billups, Rasheed Wallace and Hamilton missed all 12
of their second-quarter field-goal attempts. ... Detroit split its
only back-to-back at home this season. ... Kirilenko and Okur
combined for 46 points and 24 rebounds in Utah's 92-78 home win
over Detroit on Dec. 12.