The emotion Reggie Jackson showed was real Saturday night when the final buzzer sounded on the Thunder’s 92-89 overtime win in Game 4 against Memphis.
The reserve guard had a rocky season that saw him shuffled from starter to sub, enjoy success and experience slumps and spearhead his team one night but get scolded by teammates and coaches the next.
So when he captained the Thunder’s late come-from-behind victory by scoring 17 of his game- and career-high 32 points in the fourth quarter and overtime, Jackson was so jubilant he nearly was moved to tears.
“I never expected something like this to happen, especially in these playoffs,” Jackson said.
Jackson made up for off shooting nights by Kevin Durant and Russell Westbrook, who combined to score 30 points on 11-for-45 shooting. Jackson, who went 11-for-16 from the floor, scored two more points than his All-Star teammates on 29 fewer shots.
As impressive as anything was the composure Jackson showed in overtime after mistakenly heaving a 61-foot shot with three seconds showing on the game clock in regulation. After watching his ill-advised potential game-winner fall well short, Jackson dropped to the floor, slapped his hands on the hardwood and shook his head. He then screamed several times as he made his way to the bench, where he then slapped his hand against a chair while teammates tried to calm him.
“I was OK with it,” Jackson said of his emotions after that final shot in regulation. “Actually, what happened is I forgot (the Grizzlies) shot the ball early with a seven-second differential. I guess my point guard awareness has got to get better. I turned and I knew I was picking up the ball so the best thing to do is just try to give it a chance. Heave it. I didn’t want to get a travel and give them the ball back under our basket. I was hoping maybe Kevin would go catch it and put it away.”
Jackson said he was taking a page from Serge Ibaka with the screams.
“I was all right. I was frustrated with myself for not knowing the situation, but I knew I’d be all right,” Jackson explained. “I was probably like Serge. You see often times he just wants to scream and get all of his emotions out. That’s what I told (my teammates). ‘Just let me have a good two or three screams and just move past it.’”
Jackson responded with eight more points in overtime, the last four coming at the foul line inside the final 13 seconds. Each trip extended the Thunder’s tenuous lead to three. The late foul shots only enhanced Jackson’s already impressive resume as a clutch free throw shooter.
“The work I’ve been putting in my entire life,” Jackson explained when asked about his poise in those moments. “Putting in time and understanding that all you can do is miss or make. No matter what fans say, I know my teammates understand I’m not trying to go miss. I’m doing my best to make them and just live with the results after that. So I just go in with a mindset that I’m going to make each and every free throw and if not so be it.”
Jackson on the Thunder-Grizzlies series — “I think this is a great matchup for T.V. ratings. Neither team really goes away. We continue to find our way somehow to overtime. It’s just a great battle.”