The Pistons were buoyed by Jackson's return, along with another strong game from Derrick Rose, as they prepare for Friday's game against the Memphis Grizzlies. The Detroit News
Detroit — Reggie Jackson started all 82 regular-season games last season, plus the first two games this season before sustaining a back injury. The last time Jackson came off the bench in a regular-season game was March 24, 2017.
The last time Jackson played in any game was Oct. 24; yet, when he entered in the last five minutes of the first quarter on Wednesday night in the 127-106 win over the Sacramento Kings. Jackson had a successful return, with 22 points, four assists and one turnover in 19 minutes.
Jackson’s return from the injury is one of the few positive developments on the injury front this season. Although the Pistons had grand plans in the preseason for how their starting unit would work, injuries to Blake Griffin and Luke Kennard have short-circuited and landed the Pistons at 17-28.
Having Derrick Rose in the starting spot and Jackson as a second option provided coach Dwane Casey with a rarity this season: two high-level, experienced point guards who could lead the team throughout the game. There were a couple minutes of overlap with both point guards playing together, a strategy that Casey plans to use more this season.
“That's what today's NBA is about and that's what a lot of my offense is about: multiple ballhandlers — and sometimes we get stuck. We have some options in case we do have a non-ballhandler involved in a situation, but it works a lot more fluid,” Casey said Thursday. “Having experienced point guards — and no disrespect to Bruce (Brown), but Bruce filled the role we asked him to do.
“But to get things running smoothly get your offensive efficiency up, it's much better with guys who are natural experienced point guards.”
Rose and Jackson each had just one turnover, compared to 15 assists, helping to provide a steady hand in handling the ball and reducing the turnovers, which has been one of the Pistons’ biggest issues this season.
Casey insisted that there has been no decision made whether Rose or Jackson will move forward as the starter, but that whoever is the better option will stay in that role.
“I know it probably matters to those guys, but I don't think it matters to Derrick and it may matter to Reggie; I haven't talked to him about it,” Casey said. “We’ve got to do what's best for our team to grow it, and to develop it, and see what works, with (Reggie) in the lineup and not in the lineup.
“We'll make that decision and we go into right now his health concerns trump whether he's starting or not starting.”
Jackson’s ball distribution was a welcome addition as well, with some nice passes in the interior, especially to Christian Wood for easy opportunities. That’s been lacking with Rose, who tends to be more of a scorer than a distributor.
Wood hinted that the two had been working together previously to establish chemistry for when Jackson returned to the lineup, whether he’d be in the starting lineup or in the second unit. Seeing Jackson’s impact in his first game back didn’t come as a shock for Wood.
“No, I'm not surprised. It's something Reg and I worked on in practice,” Wood said Wednesday. “As he was getting into a groove and trying to come back, I was working with him in the practice, trying to help him out a little bit. It's something he and I have going on.”
Andre Drummond missed Thursday’s practice because he was seeing a doctor to help with his lip laceration, sustained in Monday’s game against the Washington Wizards. Drummond lost a tooth after taking an elbow to the face and missed Wednesday’s matchup.
Casey said he expects Drummond to return Friday against the Memphis Grizzlies, along with Bruce Brown and Tim Frazier, who missed the Kings game because of the flu.
“They're still out, still in quarantine,” Casey joked. “We don't want them to spread it around — no, we don't need that.”
Grizzlies at Pistons
Tip-off: 7 Friday, Little Caesars Arena
Outlook: The young Grizzlies (20-24) are one of the surprise teams in the league this season, in ninth place in the Western Conference. No. 2 overall pick Ja Morant (17.5 points and 7 assists) is the frontrunner for rookie of the year.