Renewed Jackson leads Pistons, who snap 10-game skid
Auburn Hills — The new and improved Reggie Jackson put on quite the show at The Palace Tuesday night. He helped rally the Pistons from a 17-point deficit against one of the better teams in the Western Conference and appeared to do it with ease.
The Pistons' 105-95 victory over the Memphis Grizzlies was much needed and deserved for a team that was desperate for a victory and has played hard in defeat. The victory broke a 10-game losing streak but more importantly its lead guard found his way after being lost for much of his time in Detroit.
Two days after teammates encouraged Jackson to be himself he turned in a 23-point and career-high 20 assist night. Jackson did it in a variety of ways. He attacked the rim, attacked the Grizzlies defense with wicked bounce passes and soft lobs to Andre Drummond at the rim. You name it and Jackson did it.
He simply looked different and cleared all the demons that plagued him since coming to Detroit. All kinds of questions clouded his mind and bogged down his game.
For one night he was free and clear. Now he wants to validate it Wednesday when the Pistons (24-43) play at Philadelphia against the Sixers.
"Sometimes I get it in my head, Do I shoot too much?" Jackson said. "Am I passive? I just kept saying, Just play the game. If you are open seven straight times then take seven straight shots. If the pass is there seven straight times, then make seven straight passes."
His performance was key because the Pistons played without Greg Monroe (right knee strain), who watched in street clothes. Monroe hurt his knee during practice Monday and will be re-examined again Wednesday to determine if he will play against the Sixers.
His replacement Anthony Tolliver finished with 15 points and seven rebounds.
Jackson led the final rally by hitting a baseline jumper and was fouled to give the Pistons the lead for good 91-90. Tayshaun Prince (11 points and five rebounds) followed with a bucket at 4:18 of the fourth and Jackson's drive with 3:45 remaining extended the Pistons lead to 95-90.
The Grizzlies (47-21) fell apart down the stretch and did not threaten.
Pistons coach Stan Van Gundy threw his arms in the air when he was asked where this new and improved Jackson came from.
"I have no idea. He played really, really well," Van Gundy said. "The reason? I don't know. I liked the way he played. He was on the attack, pushed the ball in transition. I just liked the way he played."
Kentavious Caldwell-Pope wasn't bad either in the second half. He hit 10-of-16 shots and finished with 24 points. Caldwell-Pope struggled with his three-point shot (2-of-7) but made two big ones as the Pistons erased a 17-point lead on a 17-4 run to take their first second half lead with 11:20 remaining in the fourth.
"By me attacking the rim and me staying aggressive got a rhythm going," Caldwell-Pope said. "It did loosen me up a little bit to get myself going, just get my rhythm by attacking the basket. I got easy buckets and it allowed my outside jumper to start falling."
The Pistons shot just 33 percent in the first half but warmed up to 60.9 percent in the second half. Led by Tolliver, Drummond and Joel Anthony, they also turned up the heat and denied inside passage for the Grizzlies' bigs.
Former Michigan State forward Zach Randolph (13 points, five rebounds and four assists) and center Marc Gasol (17 points, 11 rebounds) combined for 30 points. But they scored just six points in the second half and were 3-10 from the field.
"It was all on us," Randolph said. "They hit shots. We didn't play defense. Disappointing loss especially when we're talking about what we're trying to do. We've got to do something. We've got to get tough."
Now the Pistons want to validate against the Sixers.
"We have to have the same mindset we did in the second half here," Caldwell-Pope said. "We have to come out and talk on defense and when your shot is not falling keep playing hard."