Chicago — With the Pistons grasping to dwindling playoff hopes, Pistons coach Stan Van Gundy made a move that could shore up the starting five and help lift them in the final 11 games of the season.
Van Gundy moved point guard Ish Smith to the starting lineup, replacing Reggie Jackson, whose production has been sporadic all season. It’s the first start for Smith since Jackson returned from getting knee tendinitis treatments, which forced him to miss the first 21 games of the season.
It’s unclear whether Smith, who was signed as a free agent in the offseason, will be the starter for the remainder of the season, but it appears that Van Gundy is looking to give the Pistons the best opportunity to win.
Asked about the possibility of changing the starting lineup before Wednesday’s game at Chicago, he replied simply: “We’ll see.”
The change comes on the heels of one of the Pistons’ most disappointing losses of the season, a 98-96 defeat at Brooklyn on Tuesday night, on a buzzer-beater by Brook Lopez. The Pistons (34-37) trailed by double digits and Smith keyed the comeback, scoring 12 of his 16 points in the final period. Jackson finished with seven points in 20 minutes.
It’s been an up-and-down season for Jackson, who is averaging 14.7 points and 5.3 assists in 50 games — all as a starter. He hasn’t been 100 percent and seems to be losing his endurance, with several games in the past few weeks in which he’s been winded in the second halves.