Having proved himself in his opportunity with the Detroit Pistons, Reggie Jackson now gets a chance to show the Oklahoma City Thunder what they gave up.
Jackson returns to Oklahoma City to face his former team which is rolling again with Kevin Durant having returned.
The Pistons identified Jackson as a key piece to their rebuild when acquiring the point guard from Oklahoma City in a three-team trade Feb. 19 and signing him to a five-year, $80 million contract in July. The fourth-year pro has so far rewarded the team's faith by averaging a career-high 19.3 points and 6.0 assists in helping Detroit (8-7) to an encouraging start.
Jackson and the Pistons are coming off impressive performances, with his 18 points and seven assists against one turnover playing a big role in Detroit's 104-81 victory over Miami on Wednesday.
The Pistons halted a two-game skid with much-improved efforts at both ends following Monday's 109-88 loss at Milwaukee. Detroit shot a season-low 34.1 percent and was dominated in the paint by the Bucks, but was 8 of 14 from 3-point range en route to a 60-point first half against the Heat while limiting them to 40.5 percent from the field overall.
The Pistons were 16 of 31 from behind the arc for the game.
''We were upset about what happened in Milwaukee, and we had something to prove,'' Jackson said. ''We can't shoot like that every game, but we can play defense and hustle, and we didn't do that in the last game.''
Andre Drummond put forth a particularly determined effort, compiling 18 points and 20 rebounds along with a season-high five blocks that neutralized Miami's inside game.
''We had a talk (Tuesday) at practice about me not challenging shots, so I made that a job tonight,'' he said. ''I was going after everything, knowing my teammates would have my back against the lob.''
Detroit might have a tougher time slowing down Oklahoma City (10-6), especially with Durant back from a six-game absence due to a strained hamstring. After scoring 27 points and shooting 10 of 13 in his return at Utah on Monday, the 2013-14 MVP was 5 of 8 from 3-point range in a 30-point outing in Wednesday's 110-99 win over Brooklyn.
''He makes it look easy,'' teammate Russell Westbrook said. ''Obviously he makes everything he does look easy, but he works hard and he's put himself in position to come back and show how good a player he is.''
With Durant and Westbrook each averaging over 28 points, the Thunder rank second in the league with 109.8. They've averaged 112.7 points during a three-game winning streak and are 9-1 when scoring 110 or more.
Enes Kanter, obtained from the Jazz as part of the Jackson trade, has made a significant contribution as well. The center is averaging 12.2 points in 21.3 minutes as a core member of a strong second unit.
Conversely, the Pistons have received minimal production from their reserves, ranking last in the league with 22.3 bench points per game.
Detroit, losers of five of six on the road following a 3-0 start there, halted a six-game skid in Oklahoma City with a 96-89 overtime victory Nov. 14, 2014. That's the club's lone win in the 12 past games in the series.