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Auburn Hills — Reggie Jackson barely got through a full answer to a question without coughing into his jersey.

Fighting off a respiratory problem, Jackson returned to practice Friday morning and tried his best to get a full breath into his lungs. He missed Thursday’s practice to visit a doctor to try to get a better glimpse into what’s been ailing him and caused him to ask to go to the bench early because of extreme fatigue.

“It’s just hard to breathe and it makes it very difficult to stay energized, but I just have to find a way to continue to compete,” said Jackson, who had 17 points and 10 assists in Wednesday’s loss to the Hawks. “I like to run and attack and it makes it a little difficult — but it has to be mind over matter. I’m going to be all right.”

Coach Stan Van Gundy said the doctors diagnosed Jackson with “a viral thing” and put him on medication. He participated fully in Friday’s walk-through and doesn’t have any restrictions. Jackson played 30 minutes against the Hawks, but with having to come out of the game earlier than usual, Van Gundy had to adjust the substitution pattern.

Jackson has had a double-double in three of the last four games and hadn’t shown any adverse effects before Wednesday. But with the difficulty breathing, he’ll have to work harder to continue to play at an optimal level.

“I just have to tough it out,” he said. “It may get a little difficult at times. Energy sometimes feels a little low.

“It’s a mind-over-matter thing and you have to find a way to compete and get wins.”

Jackson has missed only one game this season and is posting career highs of 19 points and 6.2 assists.

Pistons add Brown

The Pistons signed point guard Lorenzo Brown to a 10-day contract, to add depth to their bench. With Jackson ailing and Spencer Dinwiddie not at 100 percent, Van Gundy wanted to ensure that he had an extra option.

“He’s here for insurance; I’m not planning on having to put him in the game,” Van Gundy said Friday.

The Pistons are host to the Nets on Saturday night.

“Spencer let it be known that he could go if we needed him, but he doesn’t feel like he’s 100 percent. If it became a prolonged thing, like we had an injury or an illness, we’re covered,” Van Gundy said.

Brown, at 6-foot-5, 190 pounds, has some NBA experience, having played 26 games with the Sixers in 2013-14, 29 games with the Timberwolves last season and eight games with the Suns this season.

His best stint was with the Timberwolves, where he played 18.9 minutes and averaged 4.2 points, 2.4 rebounds and 3.1 assists. His experience with the Pistons last season in training camp, along with playing with the D-League affiliate Grand Rapids Drive, made the transition somewhat seamless.

“Lorenzo played well for Minnesota. We had him in training camp last year, so we’re familiar with him,” Van Gundy said. “He was in Grand Rapids, so the terminology and everything is the same. He’s a guy with some experience with us and in the league, so he knows what’s going on.”

Help defense

While Van Gundy lamented the lackluster defensive effort in recent weeks, he said there’s not much he can do to simplify things to make the reads easier.

The impetus is on Andre Drummond to be more of a deterrent in the middle and to challenge shots and get more blocks. Even if they’re not blocking shots, Van Gundy is looking to change shots and make things harder for opponents on the inside.

“(Drummond) has just got to challenge more shots and there’s no reason he shouldn’t be doing that. Hopefully over these last 14 games, he’ll take more responsibility for that,” Van Gundy said. “I’m not worried about him on his own guy; it’s coming to help on the weak side and guards going to the rim. He’s got to be a lot better on that.”

Pistons vs. Nets

Tipoff: 7 p.m. Saturday, The Palace, Auburn Hills

TV / radio: FSD / WMGC

Notable: Entering play Friday the Pistons were in ninth place in the Eastern Conference, one-half game behind the eighth-place Bulls. This is almost a must-win for the Pistons, who have won their last five in the second game of back-to-backs. (The Pistons were host to the Kings on Friday night.) The Nets (19-49) have lost seven of their last nine but have beaten the Pistons once this season.

Rod.Beard@detroitnews.com

Twitter: @detnewsRodBeard

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