CLEVELAND – Much has been made of Reggie Jackson‘s status as the lone Detroit Pistons starter with actual NBA postseason experience, an indication of how young and raw that group is.
So who was it acting like the newbie in Game 1 Sunday, costing his team a point at an inopportune time in its opener against the Cleveland Cavaliers? That’s right, Reaction Jackson.
It’s not as if Jackson, who turned 26 Saturday, is the Pistons’ resident old head (guard Steve Blake, at 36, is the oldest player on the roster). In fact, he’s one of the most obviously irrepressible, high-revving players in the league. But he messed up when he overreacted to a non-call with 3:24 left to play, his team trailing 96-92 and the pull-up jumper he’d just taken from 13 feet bouncing off.
Jackson felt he had gotten fouled and let it be known vociferously to referee Derrick Stafford, walking up fast on close on the veteran NBA official for an easy-to-give technical foul. Kyrie Irving hit the free throw, then one more on the ensuing possession.
So when Jackson drove for a layup and got a call his time for an and-1 play, Detroit still trailed 98-95. And it would get worse before it got better, the Cavaliers’ pumping their lead to nine in the final minute.
Van Gundy had been outspoken about the refs in his TV interview after the first quarter, alleging that LeBron James was getting away with offensive fouls. But the Detroit coach didn’t go there afterward, instead mentioning Jackson’s ill-advised exchange.
“I understand you’re frustrated, you think you got fouled, whatever,” Van Gundy said. “Doesn’t matter. First of all, we can’t give [points] away even in the first quarter. We don’t have the margin for error against this team to give those. But certainly not at that point in the game. I mean, one point’s huge. … He knows that. I’m sure if you ask him, he’ll tell you the same thing.”
Uh, we did. And he didn’t.
“Nah,” Jackson said, when asked if he regretted his technical. “I wish I got the call. I wish [the ref] had seen me get slapped on the arm.”
Van Gundy’s logic seemed preferable, though.
“So because ‘I’m mad at the referee, the way I’ll show my anger is give the Cavaliers a point,’ ” Van Gundy said. “It doesn’t make sense.”