Reggie Jackson returned to the lineup for the first time since October and was the best player on the floor on his way to leading his team to a 127-106 win over the Sacramento Kings at Little Caesars Arena.
It’s amazing what a little competent point guard play can do for a team. Jackson came off the bench in his first game back from his back injury but joined starter Derrick Rose in scoring 22 points and adding four assists. He also added some impressive defense and took care of the ball, making solid passes and orchestrating the offense all night.
Rose played a typical Rose game. In addition to his 22 points, most scored by knifing into the lane, he added 11 assists and just one turnover.
It was good that the Pistons got solid ball handling from the point guard position all night because nobody else on the floor could take care of the ball. Four Pistons had three turnovers and the team had 17 on the night. There were at least a half a dozen other balls loose on the floor after poor passes, sloppy dribbling or other unforced errors, but somehow they were able to maintain possession.
Another beneficiary of competent point guard play was Christian Wood who had a team-high 23 points and had plenty of easy looks at the rim thanks to aggressive cutting. Wood was able to use his speed and his soft touch as well, going to the line 11 times and hitting nine free-throws.
Seven Pistons scored in double figures on the night.
That had a lot to do with their opponent because, boy, were the Kings bad. Sacramento was short handed — missing Marvin Bagley Jr and Richaun Holmes, but I was surprised at just how ineffective the Kings managed to be on the glass, on defense and, outside a couple of players, in shooting the ball.
Detroit was able to win the rebounding battle 48-45 despite playing without Andre Drummond, who sat out after a blow to the face that saw him lose a tooth last game.
Hell, the Kings allowed Thon Maker to notch his first career double-double, as he scored 10 points and got his 10th rebound in the closing seconds of the game. Markieff Morris also had a double double with a 13-and-11 night on the floor. This is your reminder that those two players average 2 and 3.7 rebounds per game, respectively.
The Sacramento offense was also a mess as Buddy Hield couldn’t find his shot until the game was already decided in the fourth and finished with 14 points on 16 shots. De’Aaron Fox had a solid game and was able to give Rose a dose of his own medicine by getting into the lane at will en route to 22 points.
Bogan Bogdanovic was able to hit some 3s that kept Detroit from pulling away until the fourth quarter, but for the most part the Pistons played with a relatively comfortable lead throughout.
It was an ugly, ugly game that nobody is going to write home about, but it was nice to see Jackson have so much success on his first night back on the court.
He hit his first shot, a floater in the paint, hit three 3s and all three of his free throws. More importantly, he just looked comfortable on the floor and was able to keep a skittish, sloppy team from spiraling out of control.
Having Rose and Jackson orchestrating the offense really allowed the team’s collection of catch-and-shoot players to fit snuggly into their natural roles. The Pistons shot 53.4% from the floor and 41.4% from 3, sinking 12 shots from the perimeter.
The Pistons now sit in the ninth spot in the East and are two games back of the final playoff spot.