Detroit Pistons close preseason with 112-108 win over Philadelphia 76ers

Detroit Free Press

Ex-Detroit Piston Andre Drummond joined the Philadelphia 76ers as a role player this past offseason. Due to injuries and roster absences, Drummond was forced into a larger role against his former team on Friday.

Drummond’s best efforts weren’t enough to stop the Pistons, who led by as many as 22 points en route to closing preseason on a strong note by defeating the shorthanded Sixers at Little Caesars Arena, 112-108.

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Jerami Grant led the Pistons with 24 points and eight rebounds, and Isaiah Stewart added 17 points, 12 rebounds and two blocks. Josh Jackson added 14 points, six assists, five rebounds and three blocks, Frank Jackson scored 13 points and Saben Lee added 11 points and eight assists.

Drummond led the Sixers with 17 points, and Tyrese Maxey added 16 points. The Sixers were without their two stars, Joel Embiid and Ben Simmons. The Pistons didn’t have Killian Hayes (concussion), Saddiq Bey (left ankle sprain) or Cade Cunningham (right ankle sprain.).

Isaiah Stewart emerges

Stewart is the most energetic player on the Pistons’ roster, but he’s been inconspicuous during preseason. Stewart hasn’t been bad, but his trademark bounciness hasn’t been quite at the level of his rookie year.

It could be because he missed two months of offseason training due to an ankle sprain, which shortened his time with the USA Olympic Select Team in July. He sat out of Summer League in Las Vegas and didn’t return until close to training camp. Last week, he acknowledged being a little rusty.

Friday was a return to form, as he finished with his only double-double of preseason; he was arguably Detroit’s most effective player on both ends of the court. He scored all of his points in the paint and was the beneficiary of several nice passes from Josh Jackson, who also had one of his best preseason performances.

Stewart started all four preseason games and is in good position entering the regular season. No other Piston has his combination of rebounding and defensive versatility, and he can score as well. He didn’t take any 3-pointers against the Sixers, but he has good touch near the rim, and his teammates made an effort to feed him. He made seven of his nine shots.

“To his credit, I thought he fought through it,” Pistons coach Dwane Casey said. “He didn’t play as well in the exhibition games. He just didn’t have his pop, his bounce. I thought he had it tonight with the rebounds and boards.

“It was really good to see three offensive boards. Really cleaned-up the glass, did a good job of converting in traffic.”

Josh Jackson finishes preseason on strong note

Quietly, Josh Jackson has been one of Detroit’s best players during preseason. He’s at his best when he emphasizes his versatility. He has the size and length to defend multiple positions, above-average vision for a forward and can knock down open 3-pointers.

We saw flashes of that last season, but he struggled with consistency. His shot came and went, and he occasionally forced inopportune passes or missed open teammates altogether.

During preseason, he has played with more consistency and control. He knocked down four of his eight 3-point attempts Friday, including a clutch one with a little more than three minutes left that broke a tie at 103. Jackson was actively defensively, and helped to seal the win with a chase-down block on Jaden Springer in the final two minutes. Friday was one of his best games as a passer, as he got Stewart going in the third quarter with a handful of well-placed entry passes.

“His growth has been fantastic, throughout training camp and the exhibition games,” Casey said. “It’s good to see his growth. He’s definitely a part, and we’ll figure out where he fits in in that rotation. But he’ll be a big part of our plans.”

Injuries forced Jackson into a bigger role during preseason, and Friday indicated that he’s ready to go with the regular season around the corner.

Contact Omari Sankofa II at Follow him on Twitter @omarisankofa. The Free Press has started a new digital subscription model. Here’s how you can gain access to our most exclusive Pistons content. Read more on the Detroit Pistons and sign up for our Pistons newsletter.

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