After a month-long slump, Josh Jackson was a healthy scratch for the Detroit Pistons on Monday. It wasn’t necessarily related to his performance, Dwane Casey said that night, but more that Casey wanted to get other players in.
On Wednesday, Casey inserted Jackson into the starting lineup for the first time since Jan. 10. He struggled, though, missing all five of his shot attempts. Casey stuck with him in Thursday’s starting lineup, and the fog appeared to finally lift for him.
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Jackson led all scorers with a season-high 31 points and knocked down four of his seven 3-point attempts to help the Pistons blow out the Wizards at Little Caesars Arena, 120-91. It was arguably his best performance of the season, and he said afterward that getting a second consecutive start might’ve played a role in helping him break his cold streak.
“That’s just part of our jobs, being in the NBA,” Jackson said of night-to-night uncertainty over playing time. “It’s definitely something that I struggled with when I was in my first few years, just always being ready and not really knowing what to expect.
“You just never get too high or never get too low after games like these or bad ones that you play. You just think about what you can do better in the next one.”
Jackson went five consecutive games at the end of March without scoring more than 14 points. So it was clear he had a big scoring night ahead on Thursday when he finished the first quarter with 14 points.
He got a short jumper to fall about three minutes into the game, and followed that with a dunk. By the end of the quarter, he added two stepback jumpers — one from behind the arc — another 3-pointer, a layup and three assists.
“He’s a pro,” Casey said. “He plays pro, he stays ready. That’s going to be our rotation, some guys are going to get minutes one night and other guys may not get as many minutes. It’s not going to be a set rotation, I told the guys. He responded in the right way. That’s what’s important. We’ve got a lot of guys we’re trying to get minutes for and work for. It’s going to be a different player every night. All we ask as an organization is guys, when they put their boots on and work hat on, they come out ready to play. Tonight Josh did his job.”
From Feb. 25 through Wednesday, Jackson had averaged 10 points over 12 games while shooting 36.4% overall and 18.2% from 3-point range. Thursday marked his first time clearing the 20-point threshold since Feb. 24, as well as his first game with multiple 3-pointers since then.
Jackson missed his first shot Thursday, a 3, but ended up making 13 of his 21 attempts. He said he wasn’t sure what clicked for him after that initial miss, but he quickly found his stride.
“Sometimes you get into the game, miss your first couple and ‘ahhh,’ it might be a tough night,” Wayne Ellington said after the game. “And next thing you know you get on a break, get a couple of easy ones and shoot the ball a few times. Next thing you know, it’s like throwing rocks in the ocean. It was great to see Jack have that type of night for us. I know he hasn’t exactly been himself these past few games, so it was great seeing him get back on track.”