Detroit News' Pistons beat writer breaks down Detroit's blowout win over Indiana, which was overshadowed by Reggie Jackson's ankle injury. Rod Beard
Detroit — Tobias Harris helped the Pistons to an early lead and unlike the matchup earlier this season at Indiana, they didn’t let the Pacers overcome a 20-point deficit.
This time, the Pistons led the entire way and dispatched the Pacers, 107-83, on Tuesday night but the outcome of the game didn’t matter as much as the potential long-term implications of the ankle injury that Reggie Jackson suffered in the third quarter.
Jackson twisted his right ankle and stayed down on the court, having to be helped off — unable to put any weight on it — and went straight to the locker room with team trainer Jon Ishop.
Jackson’s status is uncertain for the near future, including Thursday’s game at Orlando and Sunday at home against San Antonio and beyond.
“Right now, the X-rays were negative,” coach Stan Van Gundy said. “He’s got an ankle sprain. We’ll get an MRI and see (Wednesday) where we are.”
As for the game, Harris was scintillating, going 10-of-11 from the field — including 7-of-8 on 3-pointers — and finished with 30 points, and didn’t need to play in the fourth quarter.
Harris made all seven of his field goals, with five beyond the arc, in the first period and outscored the Pacers (19-15), 21-19, by himself. After some struggles in recent weeks, Harris broke out of a shooting slump — in a big way.
Coach addresses Reggie Jackson's ankle sprain and team's latest victory — fourth in the last five games. Rod Beard
“Coach and I talked before the last game and he just told me to clear my head and go out there and enjoy the game and just play off everything that happens,” said Harris, who added six rebounds. “That’s what I’ve been able to do and it’s been working. I’m going with a better mindset playing the game, so I’m just going to stick with it.”
The Pistons (19-14) had a 40-19 advantage, hitting 63 percent from the field in the first quarter. Jackson (eight points, season-high 13 assists) didn’t score in the opening period but had seven assists in eight minutes. Jackson found Andre Drummond, who finished with 21 points and 18 rebounds, on a couple nice plays to get the offense going early.
It’s the Pistons’ third win over the Pacers in the four meetings this season; the two teams won’t play again in the regular season.
Harris got hot early, scoring 18 points during a six-minute span in the opening quarter. He hit his first 3-pointer at the 10:55 mark, for a 5-0 lead.
He got it going with another 3-pointer at 7:22, part of a 13-3 stretch, with two baskets from Reggie Bullock (11 points). From there, Harris scored 18 of the Pistons’ next 22 points, while the Pacers managed only three.
“That’s the type of energy we need to have every night,” Drummond said. “You can’t be slipping on nights; you have to play like that every night and the season will be great.”
The Pistons managed to keep the Pacers’ Victor Oladipo (13 points) to 5-of-11 shooting, and 11 points below his season average.
Harris’ 3-pointer with 1:19 left in the first quarter pushed the lead to 38-15 and they finished with a 40-19 margin to end the period. It was their highest-scoring period of the season.
Here are some other observations from the big win:
■ Jackson seemed to focus more on distributing the ball in the first quarter, getting seven assists and only one field-goal attempt. His numbers have dipped of late, but when he’s finding others during his time on the court — while being a threat to shoot — Jackson has a bigger significance. His 13 assists were a season high.
■ While Harris has struggled for most of the past couple weeks, he got back on track early — and stayed there. He had 26 of his 30 points in the first half and didn’t need to do much more the rest of the way with the big margin.
■ Dwight Buycks, a two-way player from the Grand Rapids Drive, got his first taste of NBA action, playing the last few minutes of the blowout. He had been injured in his other opportunities to get playing time, but finally got to check into a game.
■ Ish Smith played the last 17 minutes of the game at point guard after Jackson’s injury. He finished with 12 points — on 6-of-11 shooting — and added three assists. He’ll likely be the starter while Jackson is out.