Detroit Pistons miss Jerami Grant during 118-103 loss to Portland Trail Blazers

Detroit Free Press

The Detroit Pistons looked just fine without Jerami Grant on Thursday, cruising to a road win against the Sacramento Kings.

Grant also missed Saturday’s game against the Portland Trail Blazers with a sore knee. The Pistons missed him this time. Portland led by as many as 24 points and easily handled the Pistons, 118-103, behind a 24-point, 30-rebound performance by Enes Kanter. Damian Lillard added 27 points and 10 assists, and C.J. McCollum scored 26 points.

The Pistons (16-37) were led by Josh Jackson, who had 21 points. Frank Jackson added 17 points coming off of the bench. Detroit concludes its five-game road swing against the Los Angeles Clippers on Sunday.

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Frank Jackson shows continued strides as a scorer

Since mid-March, Jackson has been one of Detroit’s best shooters. He entered Saturday shooting 46.2% from 3-point range since March 15, on 3.7 attempts per game. It has helped him become a steady rotation player after sitting out several games in February and earlier in March.

Jackson’s 17 points Saturday was his second-highest total of the season and showcased one of his more complete performances of the season. He did most of his damage inside the arc and looked confident as a playmaker, threading a pass to Sekou Doumbouya for a transition dunk midway through the second quarter. His floor spacing has given the second unit a lift, and he handled a larger offensive role against the Blazers.

Sekou Doumbouya showing consistency off the bench

A week ago, Doumbouya wasn’t in Dwane Casey’s rotation. The Pistons have good depth at both forward positions, making it hard for the second-year forward to receive consistent minutes this season even when healthy. Casey wants to reward consistently good play, and Doumbouya hasn’t always made the most of his playing time. 

That changed this week. His performance against the Oklahoma City Thunder on Monday felt a little bit like a breakout game, with 14 points on 5-for-11 shooting and his best two-way outing of the season. At his best, he’s a big-bodied forward who can bully smaller players, defend bigger players and knock down open shots.

He played to his strengths again Saturday, scoring 11 points in 23 minutes. He has been more effective in transition, beating defenders down the floor and using his body to initiate contact and finish at the rim. In Saturday’s second quarter, he did so for a 3-point play to extend a Pistons run to nine. He also closed the third quarter with a strong defensive stand on the perimeter against Carmelo Anthony.

Grant absence with a sore knee was his second straight, and it’s unclear when he will return. Doumbouya has capitalized on the minutes to play his best basketball of the season.

Contact Omari Sankofa II at Follow him on Twitter @omarisankofa. Read more on the Detroit Pistons and sign up for our Pistons newsletter.

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