Pistons set season high for points in rout of 76ers

Detroit Pistons' Tobias Harris, right, drives to the basket against Dario Saric, left, during the first half of an NBA basketball game, Saturday, March 4, 2017, in Philadelphia. (AP Photo/Chris Szagola)

By AARON BRACY

Associated Press

PHILADELPHIA — Pistons coach Stan Van Gundy wanted to get more energy from his first unit, especially Reggie Jackson. So, he used a new approach to Jackson’s minutes and it produced high-octane results.

Kentavious Caldwell-Pope scored 13 of his 26 points in Detroit’s dominating third quarter, and the Pistons set a season high for points while rolling to a 136-106 victory over the Philadelphia 76ers on Saturday night.

A day after Van Gundy told reporters he wanted to see more energy from his starting point guard, Jackson had 21 points while playing in six-minute segments.

“The energy in that first unit has not been very good,” Van Gundy said. “It’s certainly not all on (Jackson) but they sort of follow the point guard, so let’s get the pace up a little bit and attack. He was better with that tonight.”

Van Gundy reasoned that lessening Jackson’s minutes would allow him to go all-out while he’s playing.

“Really push himself defensively and try to get the pace of the game up on offense,” Van Gundy said. “Let it loose a little more and go and keep our pace up.”

Jackson played 25 minutes, down from his season average of 28, but was pleased with the end result.

“It felt good,” he said. “You have to respect that he made a decision, and I’m just going to go out there and leave it all on the line with the six-minute window.”

The Pistons, holding the final playoff spot in the Eastern Conference, had lost two of three, including Wednesday’s 109-86 drubbing at New Orleans that resulted in Van Gundy calling out Jackson and contemplating starting backup point guard Ish Smith over Jackson on Saturday. Jackson, though, did make the start while Smith finished with 11 points and 13 assists in 23 minutes.

“Ish came in and did phenomenal,” Jackson said. “It worked well for us tonight.”

Marcus Morris scored 22 points, Tobias Harris added 20 and Andre Drummond had 14 points, 14 rebounds, four steals and three blocks, one game after getting ejected for swatting the Pelicans’ Tim Frazier in the back of the head.

Already short-handed due to the loss of Joel Embiid (knee) for the season, not to mention the absence of No. 1 pick Ben Simmons (foot) all season, Philadelphia was without center Jahlil Okafor (right knee soreness) while playing the second game of a back-to-back set. Nik Stauskas had 24 points to pace the 76ers.

“When you have a really good team against nine guys in a back-to-back situation, it’s a perfect storm to the environment,” Philadelphia coach Brett Brown said.

Philadelphia was playing one night after a 105-102 home win over the Knicks. Justin Anderson, who tied his career high with 19 points Friday while playing strong defense against Carmelo Anthony, had five just points against the Pistons.

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