After sinking into a double-digit deficit in the first quarter, the Pistons found a way to make it interesting: hustle, energy and heart.
The Pistons put it all together in the second quarter and turned a 15-point, first-quarter deficit into a thrilling, 106-101 victory over the defending-champion Cleveland Cavaliers on Thursday night at The Palace.
Just like a prize fight, the Pistons took the Cavs' best punch — and bounced back off the mat.
Reggie Jackson scored 12 of his 21 points in the fourth quarter, including a floater in the lane with 55 seconds left to take a five-point lead.
Andre Drummond had 20 points and 16 rebounds and Tobias Harris 15 points for the Pistons (32-33), who have won two of the three meetings against the Cavs this season.
That held off the Cavs (42-21), who had a charge in a three-minute spurt that cut a nine-point Pistons lead to 101-98 with 1:19 left after a lay-in by LeBron James (29 points, 10 rebounds points). James had two baskets and Kyrie Irving (27 points) two more baskets in the run.
But Jackson looked like the fourth-quarter finisher he was last season, playing the entire final period in the back-and-forth rotation with backup Ish Smith — and putting forth one of his best closing performances of the season.
Jackson started the fourth with a floater and after getting a steal, found Reggie Bullock for an open 3-pointer. Drummond hit a lay-in to tie it at 80 and Jackson converted a putback of his own missed lay-up to give the Pistons the lead at the 9:37 mark.
On the next possession, he found Drummond for an alley-oop and Stanley Johnson added a pair of free throws, completing the 13-0 spurt, for a four-point advantage.
The Cavs pulled within 88-85 on a dunk by Tristan Thompson, but Jackson answered with a floater and a jumper on consecutive possessions, pushing the lead back to seven. After another Thompson dunk, Harris hit a floater and Johnson added a jumper.
The Cavs pulled within five, but Kentavious Caldwell-Pope hit a 3-pointer to push the lead back to eight. Iman Shumpert hit a 3-pointer and James followed with a lay-in with 1:19 left.
That set the stage for Jackson's big jumper to put the Pistons up by five and Harris split a pair of free throws. But Channing Frye, who had five 3-pointers, hit a banked 3-pointer to trim the lead to three with five seconds remaining.
Jackson made two free throws to push the lead to five with 4.5 seconds left and The Palace crowd could breathe a bit easier.