Detroit — The injury news keeps piling up for the Pistons, who got more bad news Saturday, as point guard Reggie Jackson will be out for at least four weeks because of back issues.
Jackson, who played sparingly in the first two games before missing the last five, had tests that revealed a stress reaction in his lower back. For the next few weeks, he’ll continue treatment and rehabilitation and will be evaluated in December.
Jackson played all 82 games last season after overcoming knee and thumb issues during his tenure with the Pistons. He is averaging 5 points, 2.5 rebounds and 4 assists in about 18 minutes in his two games this season but clearly was laboring because of the back issues.
The Pistons will have to proceed with alternate plans over the next couple of weeks. They have been committed to keeping Derrick Rose as the scoring guard off the bench but the third option, Tim Frazier — who started the previous four games — suffered a shoulder strain on Friday and didn’t play Saturday.
It turned out to be a prime opportunity for Bruce Brown, who had career highs of 22 points and seven assists in the victory over the Brooklyn Nets on Saturday.
“Bruce will play a lot at the point,” coach Dwane Casey said before the game. “Just because he goes down as a point guard, he still can (defend guards and forwards) and we’ve been pretty creative as far as how we guard situations. It doesn’t matter who he guards; we’re going to still have the same coverage.”
At least in the short term, Brown appears to be the answer at point guard, which is aided by his defensive ability in the starting lineup.
“I think I can play whatever (position),” Brown said. “Obviously, my shot wasn’t falling tonight but whatever coach wants me to do, I can do.”
To his credit, Brown didn’t commit any turnovers in his career-high 40 minutes and went 8-of-20 from the field and looked capable of handling the offensive duties. He had a tough defensive assignment on the other end, guarding the Nets’ Kyrie Irving, who started to heat up in the fourth quarter.
“He’s a great player. He can score at any level, but yes, I knew he was going to turn it up,” Brown said. “I was trying to get into him a little more; he hit a few tough shots.”
Brown spent significant time in Summer League playing point guard and that switch is paying off in the regular season, as he’s pressed into emergency duty because of the spate of injuries.
“He’s a competitor; he does that through competition and at some point in his career, he is going to knock those shots down,” Casey said. “The guys I’ve had in history of the game where I’ve coached before have been just like Bruce; they dare you to shoot and one day it’s going to click because he works his butt off on it.
“Now he’s got to put that work into the game situations. His competitive spirit allows him to do a lot of different things.”
Kennard's ups and downs
Luke Kennard had a slow start to the game, going just 2-of-6 from the field, but found a groove before finishing 8-of-19 for the game, including 3-of-7 on 3-pointers. His 24 points were critical for the Pistons to surge late and pull out the victory, as he made all five of his free throws.
He’s been having a tough transition in moving to the starting lineup but is learning to fight through the change.
“Luke was their key guy that they were trying to take out of the game. They were holding, grabbing, not letting him come off pin-downs and that is where his next step of growth is,” Casey said. “He can score once he gets it but now against top blocks, against blitzes and all that stuff, he still has to perform.
“He did that the second half. He didn’t get frustrated and he didn’t get taken out of the game, but he competed through those situations. His next growth as a player is playing through those situations and he took a step tonight in the second half to do that.”
Derrick Rose missed his first game of the season because of a sore hamstring, but partially because of load management as well. Casey said he’ll continue to monitor Rose’s minutes to ensure he’s healthy for late in the season.