They’re not even the best team record-wise in their own conference after Monday night.
The Utah Jazz held off a late comeback from the Detroit Pistons to claim a 117-105 win at Vivint Arena and move to the top of the Western Conference with a league-best 16-5 record.
At the 2:48 mark of the second quarter, a Mike Conley free throw put Utah up 28 points, 69-41. But with 2:06 left in the game, Jerami Grant’s pair of free-throws drew the Pistons to within four points.
“Sometimes when you build a big lead like that, the narrative becomes what happened because you didn’t win by 30. These are NBA teams.”
2020 All-Star Donovan Mitchell scored a team-high 32 points on Monday night, but it was a late pair of three-pointers from Bojan Bogdanovic that staved off the resurging Pistons to finally wrap up the victory and get them back to winning ways.
“We knew they were going to play hard. We continued to fight and made some big plays. I’m proud of our effort.”
The Jazz’s win took advantage of the defeat of fellow Western Conference contenders the Los Angeles Clippers at the hands of the star-studded Brooklyn Nets to move atop of the conference.
Kawhi Leonard scored 33 and Paul George had 26 points for the Clippers, who lost their sixth game of the season.
Following the victory — which again highlighted Brooklyn’s title credentials — Harden said that the team will gel as the season progresses.
“Obviously, some games are going to be better than others, but I think overall that same mindset that we had tonight, we have to have that same mindset every single game no matter who we’re playing. That’s when you’re going to see some growth out of all of this.”
A franchise best
Elsewhere on Monday night, it was an evening to remember for Fred VanVleet.
The 26-year-old scored 54 in the Raptors’ 123-108 victory over the Orlando Magic, surpassing the record previously held by DeMar DeRozan, as well as setting the record for the most ever by an undrafted player in NBA history, passing Moses Malone’s record of 53.
“Just a special night, obviously, a lot of different levels,” he said. “So just trying to enjoy it for now, but it’s not a championship or anything like that. It was a good game for me, and I’ll enjoy all the love for a couple hours and get ready for the next one.”