By: Will Burchfield
Reggie Jackson and Stanley Johnson used some gamesmanship to help the Pistons knock off the Timberwolves on Sunday night, and LeBron James approved.
With Minnesota’s Jimmy Butler about to attempt a game-tying free throw with six seconds left, Jackson approached him from behind and pretended to give instructions to Johnson, who briefly stepped into the lane.
This delayed the referee from giving Butler the ball, and the Timberwolves star clearly wasn’t happy with the interruption. He dramatically rolled his eyes in Jackson’s direction.
Butler went on to miss the free throw and the Pistons held on for the win, 100-97.
James, whose Cavaliers are in Detroit to take on the Pistons Monday night, was asked about Jackson’s strategic ploy on Monday morning.
“I’ve done it before,” he told reporters. “I won a playoff series before doing that actually. So, I’m all for it.”
Indeed, in James’ first career playoff series, an Eastern Conference quarterfinals clash with the Wizards in 2006, he iced Gilbert Arenas at the free-throw line with 15 seconds remaining in the deciding Game 6.
The Wizards were up by one point at the time, 113-112, and Arenas had a chance to give them a three-point cushion. But he missed the first attempt, after which James walked up to him, patted him on the chest and said, “If you miss both of those free throws, the game is over.”
Sure enough, Arenas missed again and Cleveland’s Damon Jones hit the game-winning shot with four seconds left to propel the Cavs into the second round.
Cleveland enters Monday night’s game in fourth place in the East with a record of 9-7. Detroit is tied for second at 11-5. It’s the first meeting between the two teams this season.