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OKC Thunder: Reggie Jackson accepts responsibility for playing bad defense

Defense is something Jackson has struggled with since taking over for the injured Russell Westbrook on Dec. 27.
by Darnell Mayberry Published: January 15, 2014

HOUSTON — Reggie Jackson didn't run from the reality.

In fact, he faced it and accepted responsibility.

“I got to really take pride on defense and work on keeping my man in front of me,” he said.

That comment came moments after Courtney Lee in Memphis' win over the Thunder on Tuesday became the latest starting guard to scorch Jackson.

It's something Jackson has struggled with since taking over for the injured Russell Westbrook on Dec. 27.

Lee joined the likes of Kemba Walker, Damian Lillard, Deron Williams, Ricky Rubio and Ty Lawson. Each has had tremendous success against Jackson as a starter, either as a slasher, shooter or setup man.

But what happened Tuesday was as bad as things have been.

Thunder coach Scott Brooks, apparently fed up with Jackson's defensive struggles, started Thabo Sefolosha on Grizzlies point guard Mike Conley. It's a cross-matchup Brooks has used in the past, even with Westbrook healthy, but one Brooks rarely uses to start games.

It didn't work.

Sefolosha neutralized Conley. But Lee then lit up Jackson, scoring 10 of the Grizzlies first 12 points before finishing with a team- and season-high 24.

“Defensively, I was poor tonight,” Jackson said after the game. “I definitely could have made it more difficult. I let him get hot early.”

Though they stopped short of blaming Jackson directly, both Brooks and Thunder forward Kevin Durant called Lee's performance unacceptable.

“Courtney Lee had his way,” Brooks said. “We didn't do a good job of starting the game off on him. Throughout the game, he sprinkled in some big shots. We can't afford for that to happen. They have some really good players. He was the wild card that we didn't want to (get going). He had too many good looks. In a game like this, we can't give a guy that many points.”

Said Durant: “We got to start the game off better. Courtney Lee came out and, I think, he hit his first five shots. And that got them going. We were down 12 to start the game. We can't play uphill, especially on the road. You got to limit your mistakes when you play on the road.”

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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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