AUBURN HILLS, Mich. (AP) — Reggie Jackson had 39 points and nine assists and the Detroit Pistons clinched their first postseason spot in seven years with a 112-99 victory over the Washington Wizards on Friday night.
Detroit’s last playoff berth came in 2009 when it was swept in the first round by LeBron James and Cleveland. The Pistons are likely to face the same opponents this year.
Detroit had to overcome 29 points from Markieff Morris, who did everything possible to keep twin brother Marcus out of the postseason. Bradley Beal added 25 for the Wizards.
Marcus Morris had 17 points and nine rebounds in the clincher.
The Wizards had come back from 19 down to take the lead early in the fourth quarter, but Jackson continued to attack on offense. He helped the Pistons take a 100-94 lead with five minutes left, and clinched the game two minutes later.
After grabbing a defensive rebound away from Markieff Morris, Jackson drove the length of the court and hit a jumper. His free throw to finish the three-point play made it 103-96 with 2:45 left.
That brought the crowd to its feet, where they stayed as the Pistons ran out the clock.
Knowing what was at stake, even coach Stan Van Gundy couldn’t be sure if his team would come out relaxed or pressing to finish things off. The question was answered when they hit their first six 3-point attempts, three by Harris, to take a 39-25 lead at the end of the first quarter.
The Pistons moved the margin to as many as 19 early in the second quarter, but their outside shooting dried up just as the Wizards started getting to the basket. Washington scored 20 points in the paint in the second as Andre Drummond struggled to protect the rim.
The Wizards were down 62-55 at the half, and a 20-point third quarter by Morris, capped off by a 50-foot buzzer-beater, pulled Washington within 86-84 with 12 minutes left.
A dunk by Morris put Washington up 89-88 with 10 minutes to play, and the Wizards got Andre Drummond out of the game with an intentional foul. He missed both free throws badly —- the second was an air ball — and Van Gundy immediately yanked him.
Wizards: Even with the playoffs on the line, John Wall was forced to sit out the game with a sore left knee. … Markieff Morris’ 20-point third quarter was the biggest of the season by a Wizards player.
Pistons: Paul George had a 21-point quarter against the Pistons on Jan. 2, while Anthony Davis had two 19-point quarters in his 59-point game at the Palace on Feb. 21.
Wizards: Host Charlotte on Sunday.
Pistons: Host Miami on Tuesday.