Jackson pulled for lack of hustle in Pistons' loss
Salt Lake City — The Pistons' 88-85 loss to the Utah Jazz Saturday night at EnergySolutions Arena really hurt.
And it hurt them in more ways than one. Andre Drummond slowly left the arena with a hood over his head after going through concussion protocol. He missed the entire second half because he did not feel right. And Tayshaun Prince eventually left the arena but not before treatment for a bad hip.
You could also see the pain of the loss on players and coaches. It was etched on the face of coach Stan Van Gundy, who quite frankly is tired of losing.
It was buried inside of steaming point guard Reggie Jackson, who was pulled from the game, not because of his poor play, but because he did not run down a ball he thought was going out of bounds. Instead, it stayed inbounds and helped fuel a late Jazz run.
The Pistons have lost because of poor 3-point shooting and poor defense. Now things are just plain falling apart.
They lost their 10th straight game, which is their second double-digit losing streak of the season. They lost 13 in a row in November and December. Now they are threatening to match that mark again after a 0-4 western swing.
Saturday's was a game that hung in the balance for much of the night. No team led by more than nine points and the Pistons failed to pull away because they shot just 38 percent from the field.
On a night the Pistons hustled for nearly everything they got it, was a non-hustle play that angered the coach.
Van Gundy can tolerate mistakes and questionable shot selection as long as there is some effort behind it. But he will not tolerate lazy play on the court.
And that is when Jackson relaxed and got burned. He came in for Spencer Dinwiddie with 5:50 remaining and play immediately bogged down. Jackson turned the ball over and later watched as Dante Exum hustled down a loose ball and fed Rodney Hood for a layup, which gave the Jazz a 78-74 lead with 4:32 remaining.
"He (Jackson) wasn't being very aggressive and when he didn't chase down the loose ball and Exum got it that was a huge hoop in the game," Van Gundy said. "As I told him when I took him out of the game, I will tolerate mistakes, but we are in a battle trying to win a fourth game in five days and you're not going to make an effort?"
Jackson got the message loud and clear from Van Gundy.
"I just assumed the ball was going out of bounds," Jackson said. "You can never make an assumption. You have to always complete the play. Unfortunately that play really cost us tonight. It was a big possession. We were trying to make a comeback. Whether it is going out of bounds or not I have to be in position to make the play."
Play ran smoother when Dinwiddie played the point. Jackson did not pass for one assist during nearly 28 minutes of play. Dinwiddie finished with nine points and six assists in 20 minutes of action. Dinwiddie refused to say the offense ran better under his leadership.
"No. Not at all," he said. "People make runs. They make shots. It's not me. It's more on them."
Prince (eight points, nine rebounds and three assists) ran the show at times as a point forward and helped lead a rally until he got caught inside a forest of big men and went down with a hip injury. He did return briefly for one defensive stop in the final 30 seconds.
Drummond was not as lucky. He got hit in the face twice in the first half and played just 11 minutes, in part because of early foul trouble. But he did not feel right. He came out to shoot some shots at halftime but was taken back to the training room for concussion testing.
It is not known how long Drummond will be out. The Pistons play back-to-back games Tuesday at home against the Memphis Grizzlies and then Wednesday at Philadelphia.
It was difficult to keep Jazz big men Derrick Favors (26 points) and Rudy Gobert (10 points, 19 rebounds) out of the lane but Joel Anthony and Anthony Tolliver did their best. Both provided sparks off the bench and did their best to fill in the hole created by Drummond's absence.
"I feel like we bailed out Favors and Gobert a couple of times," Tolliver said. "They had to make a couple of tough shots and we kind of prematurely gave them a couple of free ones. But for the most part there is not any complaints. I felt like everybody played hard. We just have to find ways to make plays down the stretch to win games."