Last night’s game mattered a hell of a lot more to the Pistons than it did to the Thunder. OKC is locked into the third seed in the West, and rested Kevin Durant and Serge Ibaka. Detroit is sitting in the seven-spot in the East and their odds of making the postseason look good after pulling away from the Thunder late for an 88-82 win. But winning this game probably didn’t matter to anyone as much as it did to Reggie Jackson.
Jackson left Oklahoma City under contentious circumstances. He didn’t like not starting. He didn’t like not being traded when he thought he would be. Thunder players didn’t like him, apparently. They pretended not to know who he was after he was finally shipped away. Jackson, in sum, likes beating OKC.
Jackson wasn’t great last night, shooting 4-of-15 from the field, but he was a big part of the Pistons’ closing run, scoring eight of Detroit’s final 11 points and keeping the Thunder out of reach. When the game was finally in hand, when Aron Baynes grabbed a rebound with a second left, Jackson went for a celebratory prance down the court, exhorting the home crowd with his hands.
Jackson exchanged words with Steven Adams while Baynes took his free throws.
“Just surprised, that’s all. Says a lot about him. Keep it up here, though,” Adams said, pointing to his temple as a sign of remembrance. “For next time.”
The strongest words for Jackson, though, were reserved for Russell Westbrook.
“Honestly, I think that was some real bullshit. I don’t appreciate it for our team and our organization. I don’t like it at all. But it is what it is. We’ll see him down the line. We’ll take care of that when we get there.”
And on Jackson being in Detroit:
“It doesn’t matter now. He wasn’t changing nothing for us. Obviously he didn’t want to be here, he’s got a better spot, he’s not doing too much of a difference if you ask me.”
Jackson has been the Pistons’ leading scorer this year, and Detroit seems set to end a six-year playoff drought. Sadly, he may never be able to find happiness that doesn’t come at OKC’s expense.