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76ers-Pistons Preview

Jan 27, 2016 - 4:27 AM If Reggie Jackson can maintain his level of play from Monday's victory, the Detroit Pistons may finally reach the postseason for the first time this decade.

Jackson tries to follow up a game that had his coach singing his praises as the Pistons host the Philadelphia 76ers on Wednesday night.

He's averaging team highs of 19.2 points and 6.6 assists, and had 29 points in a 95-92 victory over Utah, but what earned Stan Van Gundy's praise was Jackson's defensive effort as he harassed Trey Burke into an 0-for-8 shooting performance. Though the Jazz scored 33 points in the fourth quarter, Detroit (24-21) limited the Jazz to 40 percent shooting and never trailed to gain a split of its four-game trip.

''He had a hell of a game and forget the offense,'' Van Gundy said. ''That is the most consistent effort from start to finish defensively that I've seen Reggie make since we've had him.

''I've never seen him work to that level like he did tonight. ... I thought our team as a whole made that effort defensively.''

The team's effort was one of its best of the season, just the fifth time it limited an opponent to 40.0 percent and far better than its season mark of 45.4 percent. The latter figure is a strong bell weather of the Pistons' success - they're 17-6 when holding opponents at or below that percentage.

It was also Jackson's best game offensively since scoring 31 at Chicago on Dec. 18. He made 12 of 19 shots versus the Jazz after going a combined 15 for 41 in the first three games of the road swing, and the Pistons were outscored by 28 when he was on the floor in their losses at New Orleans and Denver prior to Monday's victory.

Jackson and Detroit now have the opportunity use Philadelphia (7-39) as a momentum-builder for its home game Friday versus Central-leading Cleveland. The Pistons have already beaten the 76ers once this season, cruising to 107-95 road win Dec. 11 as Jackson had nine points and three assists in a 27-7 run over the first 8:36 that Philadelphia could not overcome.

A consistent driver, Jackson is fourth in the NBA in drives with 11.2 per game and is second in scoring in those situations, averaging 7.7 points. That bodes well against a 76ers team that is soft defensively in the interior, giving up 44.0 points per game to rank 22nd in the league.

That could be an issue since rookie center Jahlil Okafor has been ruled out for a second straight game due to illness. Philadelphia, though, overcame his absence to finish a season sweep of Phoenix with a 113-103 victory Tuesday behind Ish Smith, who had 20 points, nine assists and eight rebounds as eight Sixers scored in double figures.

''We're just going out there trying to collect wins,'' said Smith, who has five 20-point games in 14 contests since being re-acquired on Dec. 24 via trade from New Orleans.

He averaged 12.0 points in 25 games with the 76ers last season after being dealt from Oklahoma City.

Smith has a 3.03 assist-to-turnover ratio with Philadelphia, which has given up 18.2 points per game off turnovers since he arrived - a marked improvement from its NBA-worst average of 21.6.