'It felt good': Reggie Jackson returns with a flourish, fuels Pistons' victory over Kings
Detroit — Reggie Jackson is back. He’s not what he was in his best year with the Pistons, but he’s back nonetheless. And his back isn’t holding him back any longer.
Jackson, who has missed 42 games because of a back injury, made a successful return, scoring 22 points, with three rebounds and four assists in 20 minutes, helping the Pistons cruise to a 127-106 victory over the Sacramento Kings on Wednesday night at Little Caesars Arena.
Jackson didn’t show many signs of rust from the long layoff, going 8-of-14 from the field and 3-of-7 on 3-pointers, providing some needed minutes to the point guard position, which has been decimated by injuries all season.
Christian Wood led the Pistons (17-28) with 23 points and Derrick Rose added 22 points, six rebounds and 11 assists.
The Pistons took control of the game in the middle quarters, with a 31-23 margin in the second and 36-25 in the third. Jackson had seven points in the second, including a floater and 3-pointer on consecutive possessions, part of a 12-0 run that turned a 42-40 deficit into a 10-point lead. After a basket by the Kings’ De’Aaron Fox (22 points), Jackson scored again on a drive.
Rose finished the period with a drive and the Pistons had a 57-50 lead at halftime.
For Jackson, the biggest challenge was getting into a rhythm and back into game shape but having worked for the past few weeks with teammates and coaching staff on his endurance, he was able to fit in almost seamlessly with where he left off, even after a long layoff.
“I made sure to take care of myself physically and most importantly mentally and get back to a point where I felt comfortable and I could play the way I wanted to play before I came back,” Jackson said. “It felt good and I was fortunate enough to make some shots. My teammates did a great job spacing the floor, setting screens and getting the ball to me on time and on target and made the game easy.”
The Pistons kept the lead the rest of the way, with a 10-2 spurt near the end of the quarter, with a basket and three free throws by Svi Mykhailiuk (13 points). Wood had an alley-oop off a nice pass from Jackson and Jackson finished the quarter with a buzzer-beating 3-pointer, for a 93-75 margin.
The Kings (15-29) started the fourth with a 7-0 run, with a 3-pointer and reverse lay-in from Bogdan Bogdanovic (18 points) but Rose hit a pair of free throws, which started a 13-3 run that helped give the Pistons the margin they needed.
Turnovers have been a problem area for the Pistons and with eight in the first quarter, they trailed after the first period, 27-26. They finished the game with 17, but only two came from their point guards.
“(Jackson) gives us two big-time point guards on the floor. When you can alternate (Rose and Jackson), you have stability at the point guard position,” coach Dwane Casey said. “That is what this league is about: guys who can create and run the floor.”
► Rose and Jackson played a few minutes together, providing an intriguing two-guard lineup but it was such a small sample size, that it’s difficult to draw far-reaching conclusions from it. Jackson’s added minutes will need to be pulled from somewhere and it’s conceivable that there are other permutations of guard lineups that could work out. Rose scored his 11,000th career point in the game.
► Thon Maker had 10 points and a career-high 10 rebounds, in the start for Andre Drummond, who missed the game after losing a tooth and sustaining a lip laceration. Maker was good in the first half at getting on the boards, getting three in the first minutes and building eight by halftime.
►Jordan Bone and Louis King got some playing time in the last two minutes. They were in town because both Bruce Brown and Tim Frazier had the flu and were inactive. Neither scored but made the trip from Grand Rapids at the last minute, arriving at the arena just before pregame.
► After 10 straight starts, Sekou Doumbouya didn’t start on Wednesday. Coach Dwane Casey said it was because Doumbouya was late for shootaround and the coaching staff is trying to establish a culture of winning and consistency. Doumbouya finished with four points and eight rebounds in 21 minutes.
► Even without Drummond, the Pistons still dominated on the boards, with a 50-44 rebounding margin, with both Maker and Markieff Morris (13 points, 11 rebounds) in double figures. Rose added six and Doumbouya eight. Morris said that it was a concerted effort to get on the boards, because they often rely on Drummond to clean up the glass when he’s in the game.