Sixers, Pistons meet in Philly

The Detroit Pistons, clinging to the Eastern Conference's eighth and final playoff spot, might have a new starting point guard when they visit the Philadelphia 76ers on Saturday night.

According to, coach Stan Van Gundy is giving thought to making former Sixer Ish Smith the starter over Reggie Jackson.

"We haven't ruled it out -- I'm still thinking," Van Gundy told that outlet. "We've got to get better energy off the start of games."

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Smith started the first 21 games while Jackson was recovering from tendinitis in his left knee. He moved into a reserve role when Jackson returned, but outplayed Jackson in February. According to the Detroit Free Press, Smith's net rating -- i.e., the team's point differential per 100 possessions while he was on the court -- was 17.7 that month, second-best among the Pistons' nine regulars.

Jackson's net differential was minus-11.3, worst among the regulars.

Smith, who played 50 games for Philadelphia last year and 25 in 2014-15, is averaging 8.3 points and five assists in 23.6 minutes a game for the Pistons, his 10th team in seven professional seasons.

Jackson is averaging 14.7 points and 5.5 assists in 28.3 minutes a night.

The Pistons, who at 29-32 are 1.5 games ahead of ninth-place Miami in the East, will also need to improve their horrid free throw shooting. They went 3-of-17 at the foul line in Wednesday's 109-86 loss in New Orleans (17.6 percent), which is the worst mark in NBA history by a team attempting at least 10 free throws.

The Sixers (23-38) beat New York 105-102 on Friday night as rookie forward Dario Saric generated 21 points, 10 rebounds and four assists, and newly acquired Justin Anderson matched his career high of 19 points.

Saric's slick feed set up Anderson for the go-ahead jumper with 24.3 seconds left, as the Sixers snapped a three-game losing streak.

Anderson, a second-year forward, was acquired from Dallas on Feb. 23, as part of a deal that cost the Sixers center/forward Nerlens Noel. He made his first seven shots en route to an 8-of-12 performance against the Knicks, and jousted with Carmelo Anthony, New York's All-Star forward, on defense.

"That's a pretty good introduction to our program," Sixers coach Brett Brown said.

Saric, meanwhile, continues to make his case for Rookie of the Year. Teammate Joel Embiid was previously regarded as the favorite, but his season ended after 31 games because of a bone bruise and meniscus tear in his left knee.

Saric is averaging 18 points and 10 rebounds a game since the All-Star break, and his nine double-doubles match Embiid's total for the most among first-year players.

Saric said after Friday's game that he tries not to think about the award.

"I just try to push myself every game, try to win every game, try to support my teammates, try to get them to believe we can win the games like today without Gerald (Henderson), without Joel, without Ben (Simmons)," he said.

Simmons, the first overall pick in the 2016 draft, will miss the entire season with a foot injury, and Henderson, a veteran guard, will sit out his second straight game Saturday with a sore hip.