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Where was Reggie Jackson? Darnell Mayberry asks in his Thunder notebook

by Darnell Mayberry Modified: January 1, 2014 at 3:30 am •  Published: December 31, 2013

This one will both hurt and haunt the Thunder…

  • In my eyes, this game was decided during a three-minute stretch in the fourth quarter. If you can stomach it, start your DVR from the 10-minute mark of the fourth quarter. It gets bad at about the 9-1/2 minute mark. That’s when the Blazers trimmed an 11-point deficit to three in approximately three minutes. And there was one player who was noticeably not on the court as the run hit.
  • Reggie Jackson.
  • Does Scott Brooks know what he has in Reggie? Do any of the Thunder assistants? If so, I don’t understand how he’s on the bench during that stretch.
  • After the Blazers pulled within three, they had all the momentum. They had found confidence and the Thunder had stumbled into chaos. On its six possessions during that pivotal run, the Thunder went 0-for-4 with two turnovers.
  • Derek Fisher was 0-for-2.
  • Nick Collison had a turnover and a miss.
  • Kevin Durant had a miss, and Jeremy Lamb had the other turnover.
  • Steven Adams (and Serge Ibaka at the very end of the run) was the fifth player in that lineup.  The Thunder had its best offensive weapon out there with Lamb and three players who are best on defense. Again, where was Reggie?
  • Here is my biggest issue with how Jackson was used. He subbed out with 2:46 left in the third quarter. After playing just 14 first-half minutes!! Why did it take Brooks until 6:41 to get Jackson back into the game? Why did it take a momentum-changing run by the Blazers?
  • Again, Jackson played just 14 first-half minutes. This wasn’t just a second-half issue. It started in the first half. Jackson sat with 3:44 left in the first quarter. He was replaced by Fisher. Initially, I thought Brooks was just changing it up. I thought he was trying to give Jackson the early rest he typically gives Durant before bringing him back to supplement the second unit at the start of the second period. But no. Jackson didn’t return until 5:22 was left in the second quarter. It didn’t burn the Thunder bad this time, but OKC also missed an opportunity to take advantage of a potential run. The Thunder extended a six-point lead going into the second quarter to a 10-point lead. It hovered around eight until Wesley Matthews heated up from downtown. By the time Jackson returned, the lead was four. So the Thunder lost two points. Don’t ignore how key that stretch was. Instead of building on that 10-point lead and perhaps pushing it to 15 or more, the Thunder was ahead by just four.
  • Draw your own conclusions about the 12-0 run the Thunder peeled off upon Jackson’s return.
  • Using Jackson in this fashion is seriously the biggest reason why I think his days in OKC are numbered. There’s no reason a guy as talented as he is, with Russell Westbrook sidelined, should be subject to such sporadic minutes. He’s better than a backup at this point but will never start in OKC. And unless he’s getting not just starter’s minutes, but also sensible minutes, why stick around? Not to mention the money aspect. Remember this night when it comes time for Jackson to make a decision on his future.
  • Another somewhat questionable decision by Brooks was reinserting Kendrick Perkins and Thabo Sefolosha with about 4 1/2 minutes to play. I say “somewhat” because I didn’t really mind either. In fact, I can understand why Brooks did it. For starters, the Blazers had just scored on, like, three of four possessions to turn that three-point margin they had just gotten within into a three-point lead. The Thunder needed to start getting stops again. And the Thunder needed someone on the perimeter and in the post to deal with Portland’s shooters and LaMarcus Aldridge. Can’t fault Brooks for that call.
  • Yes, it would have been good for Lamb to be in for additional offensive assistance. But who was he going to replace? Perk? Ibaka then would have had to guard Aldridge. Not ideal. Or Lopez, which would have put Durant on Aldridge. Again, not ideal. Ibaka? You’re then replacing rebounding and paint protection with simply the potential of sharpshooting. Bad tradeoff. Sefolosha? Lamb then becomes responsible for checking Matthews during a pivotal situation. Once again, not ideal.
  • It wasn’t just mind-boggling decisions that defined this game. It was mental mistakes, missed opportunities and, of course, missed free throws.
  • The league’s second-best free throw shooting team missed four freebies in the final three minutes. Durant and Jackson missed three combined in that critical juncture.
  • Not grabbing that defensive rebound when Mo Williams missed a pair really hurt. The Thunder could have had the ball down one with 15 seconds to play.
  • Great hustle play by Thabo just to give the Thunder a chance to be in that situation, though, racing over to the ball before getting fouled and making two clutch free throws.
  • Not sure why exactly Reggie didn’t pass the ball to Durant with about 55 seconds left. KD was wide open. And Jackson didn’t get it two him twice, once off a curl and once on a perfectly normal hand-off opportunity.
  • It’s possible Damian Lillard is better than anyone thinks. And that’s saying a lot.
  • The way LaMarcus Aldridge started the game, making his first three jumpers and five of his first six shots, it seemed he was headed for another huge night. But he cooled off real quick. He finished with a team-high 25 points and 14 rebounds. But he also finished 5-for-17 from the field after his hot start.
  • The Thunder started Perk on Aldridge. Thought that was interesting. They didn’t even allow Aldridge the chance to get hot this time by starting Ibaka on him.
  • Can’t understand why the Thunder doesn’t press up like crazy on Aldridge. You know he wants to shoot. Don’t let him. At times, OKC does a great job of cutting off his airspace. But on more than a few occasions, the Thunder was much too far off him.
  • I thought Adams did a really nice job against Aldridge in limited minutes. Bodied him. Tried his best to play without fouling. And contested everything as best he could.
  • I saw a Jeremy Lamb post up tonight. Saw it with my own eyes. It came against Lillard early in the fourth quarter. He missed the turnaround J.
  • Joey Crawford built on his reputation tonight.
  • Liked the Jackson-Ibaka rhythm I saw in the pick-and-pop tonight. Need to see it more. Much, much more.
  • Up next: Brooklyn on Thursday.

by Darnell Mayberry
OKC Thunder Senior Reporter
Darnell Mayberry grew up in Langston, Okla. and is now in his third stint in the Sooner state. After a year and a half at Bishop McGuinness High, he finished his prep years in Falls Church, Va., before graduating from Norfolk State University in...
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