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Detroit Pistons' Reggie Jackson on rehab: 'Getting better'

Detroit Free Press — Vince Ellis Detroit Free Press

March 13--SALT LAKE CITY -- Reggie Jackson appears to have a personal gauge for when he will be ready to return to the Pistons lineup.

When he is able to dunk easily off his injured right ankle, an appearance in the playing rotation will be near.

At least that's what he was saying while joking with training staff Monday morning at the Huntsman Athletic Facility on the University of Utah campus.

He had made several attempts to dunk after Monday's practice, but came up a little short.

But during offensive drills -- he was a participant at the Tuesday morning shootaround before the team kicked off a six-game trip against the Utah Jazz -- he is starting to look more like the point guard who was having a solid season before going down with a Grade 3 ankle sprain on Dec. 26.

And Jackson can see a return before the regular season finale next month.

"Getting better, slowly, but surely getting better," Jackson said. "Still not where I want it to be, but it's getting better."

Jackson was having one his best games as a playmaker when he suffered the sprain. He had 13 assists in a dominating victory over the Indiana Pacers before suffering the injury in the third quarter.

On a drive to the basket, Jackson jumped to pass the ball. When he landed, he rolled his ankle. Jackson writhed in pain and was unable to get up on his own power.

Jackson was shown on FS Detroit leaving the court, getting help on both sides and putting no weight on his right foot.

The initial announcement said he would be re-evaluated in 6-to-8 weeks.

He started light running the week after the NBA All-Star break and has progressed steadily to drills.

"There's not too much pain," he said. "Still a little sore at times and a few tweaks. It's just getting everything back."

There is hope he could be a full practice participant by the end of the trip.

Without Jackson, the team has suffered offensively. Ranked 15th in offensive rating before Jackson's injury, the team has slid to 23rd. They are 25th in offensive rating since Jackson went down.

The value goes beyond Jackson's 14.6 points and 5.5 assists per game.

His presence allowed coach Stan Van Gundy to move Ish Smith to the bench, which would help a unit that's struggled recently.

Jackson has missed 33 games and counting -- the second straight season he's missed significant time.

He missed the first 21 games last season with left knee tendinitis and was shut down for the night games after struggling after returning.

Van Gundy said several factors will determine how Jackson will be used upon his return.

"It will be a lot different situation," Van Gundy said Tuesday. "It's a lot later in the year and it'll all depend on how we're playing at the time and where we are standings-wise and how he looks.

"We're certainly getting in more practice-type stuff and advancing him that way than we did a year ago, but when it's time to play? I don't know."

The Pistons (30-36) were five games behind the Miami Heat for the Eastern Conference's eighth and final playoff spot going into Tuesday night's games with 16 games left -- meaning a playoff spot is unlikely.

In the meantime, the work continues for Jackson.

"I just want to get back and do what I love to do," Jackson said. "I'm just continually rehabbing and trying to stay on the right path and get healthy."

Pistons news

The NBA 2K League held its first NBA 2K League Draft Lottery and the Pistons Gaming Team (Pistons GT) was awarded with the No. 5 selection in the first round of the draft, which will take place April 4 in New York.

Pistons GT is one of 17 franchises participating in the inaugural season of the NBA 2K League, a professional esports league featuring the best NBA 2K players in the world. ...

The Pistons and Wayne State announced a partnership benefitting the institution's Helping Individuals Go Higher program, which features group ticket offers for students, faculty, staff and alumni for upcoming Pistons' games at Little Caesars Arena featuring the L.A. Lakers (March 26), Washington Wizards (March 29) and Dallas Mavericks (April 6).

They will receive TicketMaster links and promo codes via e-mail with 5% of the proceeds for each ticket sold benefitting the HIGH program.

Follow Vince Ellis on Twitter @vincent_ellis56.


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