Reggie Jackson found his motivation.
It didn’t come from a game against the Atlanta Hawks rife with trash talk.
The Detroit Pistons were without Blake Griffin, who was sent to the locker room after two technical fouls late in the third quarter.
But it wasn’t win one for Blake.
Jackson didn’t want to read how the Pistons lost to one of the worst teams in the league without their All-Star forward.
“I definitely didn’t want anybody writing any articles about Blake getting thrown out and how we fell apart,” Jackson said, as he received treatment to his knee in the visitor’s locker room at State Farm Arena following the Pistons’ 125-122 victory.
“We had to get a win.”
Jackson avoided the negative headlines — for one night at least — by delivering 32 points and eight assists in a performance reminiscent of his 2015-16 season, when he led the Pistons to the playoffs.
Jackson was 12-for-22 from the from the field and when it looked like the Pistons might lose, trailing by five with 1:53 remaining, he had a key 3-point play.
And his assist with 17.1 seconds left led to Thon Maker’s winning corner 3-pointer.
“Reggie made the right basketball play,” Pistons coach Dwane Casey said of the winning sequence.
“Sometimes that is the simple thing to do, and Thon had the wherewithal to knock down the shot. Reggie just made good decisions.”
Jackson had a few choice words for hip-hop artist Quavo, who was seated courtside and engaged in trash talk with the Pistons.
After he dribbled out the final seconds, Jackson rolled the ball to the Atlanta native.
“Quavo did a great job motivating us tonight, so the Hawks can thank him,” Jackson said.
Jackson, who lacked burst earlier this season after two years battling knee and ankle injuries, is now playing with bounce, continuing his strong stretch in the 10 games leading up to the NBA All-Star break.
After torching rookie Trae Young with 18 points and five assists in the first half, the Hawks (19-40) switched to a longer defender in Kent Bazemore.
That didn’t work either.
Hawks coach Lloyd Pierce started blitzing Jackson’s pick-and-rolls to get him off the ball.
And it worked for a few possessions when Jackson accepted the double-teaming.
But after a timeout, he was encouraged to keep his dribble and attack.
That’s how he was able to find Maker.
After a screen from Drummond, Hawks center Dewayne Dedmon switched to Jackson.
Jackson was being guarded by Dedmon, Young with Bazemore looking right at the Pistons point guard.
Jackson hesitated before speeding around Dedmon, but Bazemore picked him up.
Jackson retained his dribble along the baseline, drawing Taurean Prince.
There were three Hawks defenders at the rim guarding Jackson and Drummond — leaving Maker wide open in the corner.
The Pistons (27-30) were able to retain the Eastern Conference’s eighth and final playoff spot.
“It means a lot, but we shouldn’t dig ourselves a hole like that,” said Maker, who was acquired before the Feb. 7 trade deadline.
The game was a milestone for Jackson as he joined Joe Dumars and Chauncey Billups as previous Pistons with at least 32 points, eight assists and no turnovers in a game.
“If you don’t believe in yourself, then nobody else will,” Jackson said. “That’s my belief. I’m finding my footing within the offense, my teammates are doing a great job of setting screens for me, getting me open. I’ve just been a benefactor for everything they’re doing, and I’ve also been a benefactor of health.”
[ Healthy Reggie Jackson could push Pistons to playoffs. For real ]
With 26 points and 21 rebounds, Drummond reached the 20-20 mark for the 10th time this season.
He added five steals — the first player with such a line since Charles Barkley scored 41 points, grabbed 22 rebounds and added six steals in 1988.
“(Reggie Jackson) and Andre, I thought just put the team on their shoulders and carried us,” Casey said.
They said it
“I just (expletive) let it fly,”
Pistons backup big man Jon Leuer after making a clutch 3-pointer in the fourth quarter. It was his first 3-pointer made since April 2017.
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