Pistons back in play-offs

Detroit Pistons guard Reggie Jackson taking a shot against Washington Wizards' Bradley Beal during the fourth quarter on Friday. Jackson's big game helped the Pistons clinch a play-off berth.
Detroit Pistons guard Reggie Jackson taking a shot against Washington Wizards' Bradley Beal during the fourth quarter on Friday. Jackson's big game helped the Pistons clinch a play-off berth.PHOTO: REUTERS

Detroit down Washington to clinch their first post-season spot in seven seasons

LOS ANGELES • Point guard Reggie Jackson would not let Detroit be denied, scoring 39 points in a 112-99 triumph over the Washington Wizards that saw the Pistons clinch their first National Basketball Association (NBA) play-off berth in seven seasons on Friday.

Tobias Harris had 17 points and pulled down nine rebounds for the Pistons, who squandered a 19-point lead before ending the longest post-season drought in the Eastern Conference.

"It's huge for us, it's huge for our organisation," said coach and team president Stan Van Gundy.

"We've got four starters who have never been there. It's a great milestone for them to get in.

"Obviously, we hope this is just the start of bigger things to come but you've got to start somewhere and this is it.

"Reggie was fabulous. He's had a tough month, been in a slump, and he busted out of it in a huge way tonight and really took control of that game.

"And then our defence and rebounding over the last 41/2 minutes were really good."

Kentavious Caldwell-Pope contributed 14 points and Marcus Morris chipped in with 13 for the Pistons, who will make their first post-season appearance since the 2008-09 season.

All-Star Andre Drummond, who scored his 4,000th career point, was limited to eight points and six rebounds for Detroit, whose victory officially extinguished the play-off hopes of the Wizards.

But Washington did not go down without a fight.

Markieff Morris led them with 29 points. Bradley Beal added 25 for a side coping with the absence of All-Star guard John Wall, who missed a second straight game with a sore right knee.

Morris admitted that Wall sitting out the game was a crucial factor in their loss.

He said: "They made their shots earlier. Reggie had a great game. It seemed like once we got it close, they kept it close and they finished the game. We were without our best player (Wall) and their best player stepped up for them."

Indeed, Jackson was pleased with the victory after the praise from both his coach and his opponents.

"We're definitely happy to go get it ourselves and I think what makes it sweeter is that it was against a team that beat us the last three games we played them," he said.

"We did it at home against a team that was chasing us. They were the only team that had a legitimate chance to chase us, and to knock them out and clinch our spot against a team that had really been beating us up I don't think we could have written the story any better."

AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Sunday Times on April 10, 2016, with the headline 'PISTONS BACK IN PLAY-OFFS'. Print Edition | Subscribe