Banged-up Pistons look to keep momentum rolling vs. Grizzlies

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The Detroit Pistons never had their whole team together this season. For the time being, they at least have their top two point guards in action.

Reggie Jackson returned Wednesday after missing all but the first two games with a back injury. He gave the Pistons a huge lift with 22 points off the bench in just 19 minutes, helping them begin a four-game homestand with a 127-106 victory over the Sacramento Kings.

They’ll play a back-to-back this weekend, beginning with a matchup against Memphis on Friday.

Derrick Rose also scored 22 points along with doling out 11 assists. That’s the potent combination coach Dwane Casey envisioned at the beginning of the season.

“He gives us two big-time point guards on the floor,” Casey said. “When you can alternate those two guys, you have stability at the point guard position. That’s what this league is about — guys who can create, run the floor. Having those two guys together makes a difference.”

Detroit’s season has been marred by injuries to key players. Star forward Blake Griffin missed the first 10 games due to knee and hamstring injuries. He continued to be nagged by knee soreness and underwent season-ending surgery earlier this month. Swingman Luke Kennard hasn’t played since Dec. 21 due to tendinitis in both knees.

Center Andre Drummond missed the Kings game with a lip laceration, though he’s expected to play this weekend. Another starter, guard Bruce Brown, was sidelined by the flu.

Jackson’s return was a welcome sight for the banged-up club, which has won three of its last four.

“Reggie had some fresh legs,” forward Markieff Morris told the team’s website. “He came back (Wednesday) very aggressive. Seemed like he didn’t miss a beat. He was big in the win.”

The Pistons, who are in sell mode prior to next month’s trade deadline, might not have the point guard duo together for long. Rose’s name has been bandied about in trade rumors.

Jackson was just glad to contribute again.

“I felt good and was just fortunate enough to make some shots,” Jackson said. “Teammates did a great job spacing the fall, setting screens, getting the ball to me. Just made the game easy.”

Memphis has lost its last two games following a seven-game winning streak. The Grizzlies were blown out at Boston, 119-95, on Wednesday. The Celtics took control by outscoring the Grizzlies 33-17 in the second quarter.

“We can always get better,” coach Taylor Jenkins said. “I felt that we were playing OK, but we could have played a lot better and they just took it to a whole other level. As I said, the word ‘elite’ — and they were elite in that second quarter. We kind of paid the price.”

Memphis had no response in the second half. It committed 19 turnovers during the game.

“They brought it defensively,” Jenkins said. “This is something we talked about. It is great for our guys to experience, especially our young guys.”

Ja Morant, the top candidate for Rookie of the Year, will look to bounce back from arguably his worst outing this season. The point guard scored just two points in 24 minutes.

–Field Level Media

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