Jackson seemed genuinely disappointed in his defensive performance and sounded as if he learned something from it.
“I can't start off like that again,” he said. “I just got to lock in from the time we step on the court until the time all zeros strike in the fourth quarter.”
For all the bellyaching about Jackson's perceived struggles since stepping in as the starter, his inconsistent defense has been more troublesome than his offense. He's shooting a slightly lower percentage from the field as a starter and has a higher turnover rate. But in 4.8 more minutes on average as a starter, Jackson is posting nearly identical production as a scorer and rebounder, while averaging 1.2 more assists in the first string.
His shortcomings on defense have come as a shock for two reasons: advanced metrics had showed that Jackson was a quality defender, and Jackson boosted expectations by spending a portion of the preseason fantasizing about how formidable a tandem he and Westbrook could be not on the offensive end but the defensive side of the ball.
Jackson's struggles, though, can partially be explained by his relative inexperience. Despite his strong playoff performance last season, Jackson still has only 13 career regular-season starts. He has yet to face — and thus figure out — more than half the league's starting point guards. A learning curve is to be expected.
Then there's everything else on Jackson's plate.
“He has to do a lot, man,” Durant said. “You got to take that into account. He has to run the team. He has to get everybody involved. He has to make sure he picks and chooses his spots and then come back on the defensive end and know all the rotations at the point guard position, the (shooting) guard and the (small forward).
“You got to give him some credit. He's playing hard. But we just got to keep encouraging him. And we just got to help him out. It's a team. It's not about one-on-one defense. It's team defense.”