Jaren Jackson Jr. returns to the Memphis Grizzlies’ starting lineup on Monday, making it even more difficult for the visiting Detroit Pistons to win on back-to-back days.
Jackson missed the Grizzlies’ 139-111 loss to New Orleans on Friday due to a one-game suspension for leaving the bench during a late-game skirmish with the New York Knicks last week.
The Pistons saw plenty of Jackson during the team’s first meeting in Detroit on Jan. 24. He scored 29 points in the Grizzlies’ 125-112 victory.
Detroit will also have to do a better job containing the Grizzlies’ backcourt. Shooting guard Dillon Brooks poured in 27 points at Little Caesars Arena while Rookie of the Year favorite Ja Morant had 16 points and 12 assists. Memphis shot 54.4 percent that night and made half of its 22 3-point attempts.
It was a different story on Friday. New Orleans scored 66 first-half points, then shredded the Grizzlies’ defense for 44 third-quarter points.
“We can do a better job guarding one-on-one regardless of who we have out there,” Memphis coach Taylor Jenkins said. “Give them credit. They played with great force.”
The Grizzlies are trying to hold off a host of challengers for the final playoff spot in the Western Conference. Despite the defensive meltdown against the Pelicans, they have won 11 of their last 14 games.
Another of their top rookies, forward Brandon Clarke, missed Friday’s game with a sore hip. It’s uncertain whether he’ll play on Monday. Clarke had 15 points and 11 rebounds in 25 minutes off the bench against the Pistons.
Jenkins expects excellence regardless of who’s available on any given night.
“We’ve done it all season long, relying on our depth and any five guys we put out there, we expect to compete and play at a high level,” Jenkins said.
Detroit competed at a high level against one of the Western Conference’s best teams. The Pistons snapped a five-game losing streak with a 128-123 overtime win over Denver on Sunday.
Detroit rallied from an early 21-point deficit with the aid of some young players.
Second-year guard Bruce Brown piled up 19 points, 10 rebounds and eight assists, while rookie forward Seko Doumbouya scored 17 points. Doumbouya was benched the previous game after some subpar performances.
“There’s going to be some good days and bad days, some ups and downs, ins and outs,” coach Dwane Casey said of the duo. “Some days you’re going to wonder what they’re doing and what decisions they’re making and there’s going to be days where, other than the majority of the first quarter, we made some pretty good decisions.”
Pistons point guard Derrick Rose is unlikely to play Monday due to a groin injury suffered during the first half of Sunday’s game. Brown will likely back up Reggie Jackson, who had 20 points against the Nuggets, at the point. Brown will be coming off arguably the best game of his career.
“When Bruce thinks about shooting, he doesn’t make shots,” Casey said. “If you just play the game the right way, make the right reads, know where (your sweet spots are), good things happen. He did that today.”
–Field Level Media