Pistons look to slow down Thunder
No longer able to take scoring for granted, the Oklahoma City Thunder hope they’re starting to find their way offensively.
After Reggie Jackson and Anthony Morrow led them on a second-half surge, the Thunder will try to win back-to-back games for the first time Friday night as they go after their 11th consecutive victory against the Detroit Pistons (7:30 pregame, 8 p.m. tip-off on FOX Sports Detroit PLUS).
Oklahoma City (3-6) has been one of the league’s top five scoring teams over the past four seasons, though it has struggled early on after losing two superstars who averaged a combined 53.8 points in 2013-14.
Not only are Kevin Durant and Russell Westbrook nursing injuries, but fill-in starters Perry Jones and Andre Roberson are also out.
As a result, Oklahoma City averaged 90.3 points through its first eight games, well below its 106.2 mark last season.
Following the Thunder’s worst shooting performance (33.3 percent) in four seasons at Milwaukee on Tuesday, Morrow and Jackson helped them recover with 28 points apiece in Wednesday’s 109-94 win at Boston.
Oklahoma City hopes to carry over a second-half performance in which it shot 61.9 percent, made 7 of 14 3-pointers and scored 67 points. Morrow and Jackson scored 22 and 20, respectively, on a combined 16-for-20 shooting in the final 24 minutes.
Morrow, who hit 4 of 5 from beyond the arc, is no longer on a minutes cap after missing seven games with a sprained MCL.
Jackson is averaging 22.8 points along with 7.5 assists in his six starts after averaging 14.1 points in 36 last season. The point guard has totaled 57 points while hitting 20 of 36 shots from the field in his last two.
"I’m just trying to figure out how to play this role," Jackson said of leading the offense. "But I’m having fun with it, making the most of my opportunity until we get fully healthy. Until we get fully healthy, we’re just doing what we can to keep this team rolling."
Although they’ve had Durant and Westbrook in every game of their winning streak against Detroit (2-6), the Thunder – 2-1 at home – appear to have a solid opportunity to extend the run.
The Pistons, winless in six all-time trips to Oklahoma City, have lost three in a row overall and each of their first four on the road. They rank near the bottom of the league in scoring (93.3) and field-goal percentage (41.7), but cracked triple digits for the first time in Wednesday’s 107-103 loss at Washington.
"It’s definitely frustrating, but it’s a long season," point guard Brandon Jennings, who had a season-high 30 points, told the NBA’s official website. "All the work we put in since September 1, I know is going to pay off."
The Pistons are shooting 41.9 percent from beyond the arc in their last five games, though they could have a tougher time against an Oklahoma City team that has limited opponents to 25.0 percent from long distance in its last three.
Kentavious Caldwell-Pope, who had 20 points with four 3s Wednesday, scored a career-best 30 at Oklahoma City on April 16, but Durant had 42 in the Thunder’s 112-111 win.
Andre Drummond, who had 22 points and 13 rebounds in that contest, has totaled four points and 10 fouls in his last two games.