Jackson ably fills injured Monroe's shoes
Philadelphia — After going through a 10-game losing skid, the Pistons managed to bounce back Tuesday night with a victory over the Grizzlies.
Even without the injured Greg Monroe (right knee strain) — who missed the second game of his career with an injury — the Pistons were able to muster an improved offense behind point guard Reggie Jackson, who had 23 points and a career-best 20 assists.
Without Monroe, the Pistons were looking for a reprise, as he missed Wednesday's game against the 76ers at the Wells Fargo Center.
The schedule doesn't leave chances to celebrate victories — even small ones — as the Pistons were trying to win on the road for the first time since Feb. 10 and get their first back-to-back victories since Feb. 22.
Van Gundy said Tuesday that Monroe's injury, which he sustained Monday during practice, wasn't serious and he wouldn't miss extended time.
Monroe averaged 15.7 points and 11.0 rebounds the first three meetings this season against the 76ers.
Without Monroe, Jackson found the middle open and was able to score and find his teammates, becoming the second Pistons guard with a 20-point, 20-assist game this season (Brandon Jennings).
"He was very aggressive, attacking the basket and he made great decisions," Van Gundy said of Jackson.
Besides the relief of stopping the losing streak, the win provided a glimpse of how Jackson might look on offense with more pick-and-roll situations with Drummond, who had 16 points and 16 rebounds.
For Van Gundy, it was a signal the Pistons can't be one-dimensional by clogging the middle with post players and need to have some versatility on the offensive end. But given Monroe's uncertain status for next season, it could become their new reality.
"We have to be able to play either way. Greg's a really good player and I probably haven't done nearly a good enough job in terms of maximizing those two big guys when they're in there together," Van Gundy said. "That's something we hope to do better the rest of the year when Greg gets back and certainly into next year if we can get Greg re-signed."
On a team almost bereft of NBA experience, Sixers guard Jason Richardson stands out — not from a statistical standpoint, but simply because of the years he's been in the league.
Richardson, the former Michigan State standout, is in his 13th season — more than double the years of the next-most-tenured Sixers player — and after missing all of last season, Richardson is making an impression with the young Sixers, cracking the starting lineup and averaging 9.3 points and 4 rebounds in 10 games.
While in Orlando, Richardson played for Van Gundy, who was glad to see Richardson was coming back from a severe knee injury that caused him to miss part of the 2012-13 season and all of last season. But at age 34, Richardson is giving it another go.
"He's one of my favorites; he's a great, great pro, a great worker, a great person and a tremendous guy to coach. I'm really glad I had the opportunity to coach him," Van Gundy said Wednesday. "I really feel good for him getting back.
"It would have been easy for him to just stay out and collect his money, but that's not him. He missed being out there and I'm really happy for him; he's a great guy as well as player."
Where's the love?
Van Gundy made the rounds on social media for his postgame handshake with Grizzles coach David Joerger following Tuesday's game. Van Gundy looked to blow by without any words, but Van Gundy reiterated that there's no bad blood between him and Joerger.
"I didn't understand it," Van Gundy said. "I'll make sure I contact Dave tomorrow to make sure he didn't take anything the wrong way.""I remember him saying, 'Great job; good luck the rest of the way' and I said, 'Good luck in the playoffs,' and we moved on.
"I have great respect for Dave, so I don't know."