New York — When it came down to it, Pistons president-coach Stan Van Gundy had to make the call.
With point guard Reggie Jackson struggling through a knee tendinitis injury all season, it was time to give him some rest.
How long that rest will be is the question.
Van Gundy scratched Jackson from the Pistons’ matchup against the New York Knicks on Monday evening but didn’t rule out keeping Jackson on the shelf for the remainder of the season.
“We don’t know — we really don’t know,” Van Gundy said after Monday night’s game. “I don’t anticipate him going (Tuesday night vs. the Miami Heat) and that’ll take him to four days (without playing a game). He did practice yesterday and then we’ll see on Thursday (versus the Nets).”
Jackson had not been 100 percent this season, after the platelet-rich plasma injections caused him to miss the first 21 games of the regular season. He started the next 50 games, but went through ups and downs, including a platoon system with Ish Smith to help reduce minutes and increase production.
With only nine games remaining in the regular season and the Pistons on the outside of the playoff picture — trailing the Heat by 1½ games — the timing for rest is curious.
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“We’ve been thinking about this for a long time. It’s hard to put a percentage, but he’s been playing at probably about 80 percent and as we get into this stretch of games in March where we’re playing a lot, the fatigue is making it worse,” Van Gundy said.
“We were at a stretch in the year where it wasn’t fair for him that we were running him out there and putting pressure on him. He’s seeing things he should be able to do and he just can’t do them. He’s not feeling pain, but he can’t make the plays he wants to make and we’re putting him out there.”
Smith started the first 21 games and again the last two games for the Pistons, who have lost seven of their last eight games. During that span, Jackson averaged 10.3 points and 3.7 assists, well below his season averages of 14.5 points and 5.2 assists.
That’s where Van Gundy, after consulting with Pistons owner Tom Gores, decided to make a call and keep Jackson out of the game. Veteran Beno Udrih was the backup Monday and could be going forward.
“The other part is we’re at a point in the year where we were really struggling and we needed to have guys at full energy. As much as he wants to, he can’t right now. It’s amazing what he's done to average 14.5 points, 5 assists in 27 minutes, not anywhere near at full strength,” Van Gundy said. “To (Jackson’s) credit, he fought me on it. He wanted to keep going.
“Tom and I had a talk last night; I wanted to make sure he’s on board.”
Jackson signed a five-year, $80-million deal and this is his second season of the contract. The hope is that he can get back to the form he showed late last year and in the preseason, when Van Gundy called Jackson’s play the best of his career.
“The thing we look forward to is getting a fresh start in the offseason and being able to go through the preparation for a season like he did last year,” Van Gundy said. “Not only get right physically but really get his confidence back to be able to attack and make plays, like he did last summer when he came in really ready to go.
“He was absolutely dominant and had a great summer. Physically, there’s no structural damage so we’re very optimistic that he’ll be able to get back to that.”