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Pistons' Bojan Bogdanovic returns to Utah, Kevin Knox steals show in 125-116 win


Since his arrival in Detroit, Bojan Bogdanovic has been someone you want with the ball when it's time to get a bucket.

Wednesday's game against the Jazz marked Bogdanovic's first game in Utah since he was traded to the Pistons shortly before the season began.

The veteran forward started slow, but gradually gained his momentum and finished with a team-high 23 points to help Detroit (5-15) capture its second consecutive win in a 125-116 victory over Utah (12-8).

Bogdanovic, who played in Utah for three seasons from 2019-22, received a video tribute from the Jazz during the first timeout of the game, which ended with a classy message: "Welcome back brother." After the clip ended, Bogdanovic raised his arm up afterward to acknowledge the Jazz fans inside the arena.

Bogdanovic has scored at least 20 points in five consecutive games and seven of the last eight.

"I think our togetherness brought extra energy," Bogdanovic said after the game. "The huge win last night gave us big confidence for this game. Once again, we played a great game. A lot of guys in double-figures. Every player that stepped out on the floor gave us something and brought something to the table."

It might have been Bogdanovic's homecoming, but Pistons forward Kevin Knox II improved upon his stellar play from the Pistons' win against the Nuggets the night before to finish with 21 points on 6-of-8 shooting from the 3-point line. The last time Knox scored at least 20 points was during his rookie season with the New York Knicks on April 3, 2019 against the Orlando Magic. It also marked a single-game career-high in 3-point field goals for Knox.

After the game, Pistons wing Hamidou Diallo doused his former Kentucky teammate with water to celebrate his best game since joining the team this offseason.

"Feeling good, man," Knox told Bally Sports reporter Natalie Kerwin. "We've been playing hard these last few games. It feels good to get a couple of wins coming off a back-to-back. This was a big win for us."

More:BOX SCORE: Pistons 125, Jazz 116

Marvin Bagley also dominated the game in his limited time on the floor with a season-high of 19 points (9-of-10 from the field), five rebounds and two steals in 20 minutes on Wednesday. Pistons coach Dwane Casey used Jalen Duren, who finished with four points, seven rebounds and two blocks, for the majority of the game down the stretch.

Alec Burks, who was drafted by the Jazz with the No. 12 overall pick in 2011, also made his return to Utah on Wednesday. He played eight seasons in Utah and averaged 9.6 points, 2.9 rebounds and 1.6 assists.

Despite being listed as questionable before the game started due to reconditioning, Burks continued his offensive efficiency and totaled 18 of the Pistons' 58 bench points. He knocked down a corner 3-pointer, assisted by Bogdanovic, to give the Pistons a six-point lead with two minutes and 36 seconds left.

Killian Hayes finished with just two points, three rebounds and three assists in 16 minutes of play through the first half. He started the second half on the bench and was later ruled out of the game with a left calf strain, another blow to the Pistons' depth.

"I don't know what the latest is, but hopefully he's OK. Like everything else, next man up," said Pistons coach Dwane Casey. "Our guys have done an excellent job of stepping in and taking advantage of their opportunity. That's what we should be about."

Bogdanovic was coming off a performance of 22 points, a season-high nine rebounds and four assists against the Denver Nuggets the night before.

Bogdanovic entered the game averaging a career-high 20.6 points, 3.6 rebounds and 2.4 assists this season. He was acquired from the Jazz in a trade on Sept. 22 in exchange for Kelly Olynyk and Saben Lee, who recently signed a contract with the Philadelphia 76ers.

Olynyk averaged 9.1 points, 4.4 rebounds and 2.8 assists in his lone season with the Pistons last season. He finished with just six points, three rebounds and six assists against his former team.

Utah had a recent stretch of dominance against the Pistons. Detroit has now won two of the last three meetings, including last season's 126-116 win on Jan. 10. Before that, Utah had won 10 consecutive games from 2017-22.

Before Wednesday, the Pistons failed to pull together back-to-back wins this season, but the team is riding a two-game win streak into Friday's game against the Phoenix Suns.

"It's one of those things where I'm happy for our players because they're really executing what we're trying to accomplish," Casey said. "We're trying to establish an identity defensively, even though tonight was an old western shootout. Tonight, Utah made some tough shots but we countered by scoring on the other end. I'm really proud of some of the growth of our guys."

mcurtis@detroitnews.com

Twitter: @MikeACurtis2