Of all the things Reggie Jackson needed to prepare for in anticipation of a larger role this season, there was one that he ran into Wednesday night that he perhaps didn't factor in so early.
Having to play hurt.
Jackson played 32 uncomfortable minutes in the Thunder's season opener at Utah, nursing obvious discomfort in his lower back area. At several points during the game, Jackson placed a heating pad on his back when he was on the bench and attempted stretching near the bench at other points during the action. At one point, Jackson needed to retreat to the locker-room area.
After the game, Jackson walked gingerly through the team's dressing room, grimacing as he sat at his cubicle.
When asked about the injury, Jackson just looked up and smiled, choosing to not comment. Asked how long he's been dealing with discomfort, Jackson again declined to comment.
With customary starter Russell Westbrook sidelined while recovering from knee surgery, the Thunder can't afford to lose Jackson. Veteran Derek Fisher is the only other healthy point guard on the roster.
ADAMS THE NEW BACKUP CENTER?
Thunder coach Scott Brooks came a little closer to confirming that he has settled on rookie center Steven Adams as the primary backup behind Kendrick Perkins. But just a little.
Brooks still won't say it authoritatively, but the coach hinted that Adams is indeed his man.
“I think Steven has done a good job,” Brooks said. “But everything, minutes are available. I think (Hasheem Thabeet), Steven and Perk have done a good job, and we're going to always have to compete and battle and fight for those minutes. (Some) nights it's going to be one more than the other.”
Thabeet was suspended for the season opener for head-butting New Orleans center Greg Stiemsma in the preseason. Adams then scored two points with three rebounds and one assist in 18 minutes against the Jazz.
LUCAS HANGING AROUND
Former Oklahoma State point guard John Lucas III began his sixth NBA season Wednesday night as the starter for the injury-plagued Jazz.
He's now on his fourth team since going undrafted in 2005, impressively continuing a somewhat improbable career that has included stops in Italy, Spain, China and the NBA D-League.
“He's tough,” Brooks said of Lucas, who was in training camp with the Thunder in 2008. “You don't make it in this league not having toughness, especially at that position, because the point guards come at you every night. And you have to put your foot down and battle and not take anything from anybody. And I think he's done a great job of putting himself in position to always be there at the very end.”
Wednesday was only the fourth start in Lucas' NBA career. He finished with eight points and five assists in 37 minutes.
“He can shoot. He can score. He can lead the team,” Brooks said. “He's one of those guys that can come in and spark your team.”
TULSA 66ers ACQUIRE TOP PICK, UZOH
The Tulsa 66ers on Thursday acquired the No. 1 overall pick in the 2013 NBA Development League Draft, as well as former University of Tulsa guard Ben Uzoh, in a three-team trade with the Iowa Energy and Springfield Armor.
The 66ers traded the rights of Diante Garrett, along with the 11th overall pick in the upcoming draft, to Iowa. The Energy sent the No. 1 pick to the Thunder, and guard Lorenzo Brown and the No. 6 pick to Springfield. And the Armor sent the No. 3 pick to Iowa and Uzoh to Tulsa.
The 2013 NBA D-League Draft is Friday at 6 p.m.