Pistons starting Tobias Harris rest of way

Rod Beard
The Detroit News

Auburn Hills — The flip-flopping is over, apparently.

Tobias Harris will remain in the Pistons’ starting lineup for the remainder of the season, coach Stan Van Gundy said after Friday morning’s shootaround.

Harris had returned to the starting five last week in victories over the Cleveland Cavaliers and New York Knicks and a loss to the Cavs, averaging 20 points in the three games. Against Utah on Wednesday, Harris came off the bench and had 12 points, but Van Gundy said it was a mix-up, as the Jazz changed their starting lineup and the Pistons didn’t match it.

Because of slow starts, though, Van Gundy is going to stick with Harris, who is the Pistons’ leading scorer (16.4 points), in 41 starts and 27 games off the bench.

“Tobias (is starting) and we’re going to stay with that. We’re going to quit juggling them — I don’t think that’s helped,” Van Gundy said. “Because of our offensive struggles and Tobias has been our best guy overall and a guy who generally gets going a little earlier, we’re going to go with him.”

With only 14 games remaining, the Pistons (33-35) have little margin for error, heading down the stretch toward the playoffs. From that sense, it’s a change in the lineup, but having Harris back among the starting group could be the spark the offense is lacking.

“It doesn’t change my mindset at all. We have 14 games left and we need to get all these wins,” Harris said. “Whatever coach feels is best for the team and can help us get off to better starts and get a rhythm, I’m all with it.

“From our starts, we’ve been down double figures in a lot of the games since the break. Part of it is us coming together and having that chemistry and playing a lot harder than the opponent.”

That’s not the only change that Van Gundy and his staff are considering, but it looks to be the only one they’re ready to make so far. Point guard Reggie Jackson has been up and down the past few weeks, including missing most of the second half because of extreme fatigue.

They’ve contemplated using Ish Smith as a starter, but hesitate because of the bigger issues it could present.

“We’ve talked about that; I just don’t see any advantage to changing that right now at all,” Van Gundy said. “Will I look at it? Yeah, any game, any time, any thing. But now right now.

“It doesn’t mean we haven’t thought about it, but we don’t see the advantage right now.”