Monday's game at Washington was Reggie Jackson's ninth as the primary backup to Russell Westbrook. Entering the game, Jackson was averaging a modest 4.9 points, 2.8 rebounds and 1.6 assists in the previous eight contests.
But coach Scott Brooks said he likes what Jackson has brought.
“I like what Reggie has been doing,” Brooks said. “He still needs to improve in a lot of areas and he will because it's only his second year in this league. But his athleticism on the defensive end can really help. But I like what he's doing controlling the tempo of the offense and doing a fairly good job guarding the ball in pick and rolls, which is such a huge defensive play in this league.”
IBAKA SETS A CAREER HIGH IN SCORING
Serge Ibaka poured in a career-high 26 points in Monday's loss to the Wizards, assembling an offensive performance that demonstrated his continued growth on the offensive end.
Ibaka made 12 of 17 shots, also a career best for made field goals, and hit a 3-pointer for the third time in five games. Ibaka added a team-high-tying 11 rebounds along with two blocked shots and one assist in 35 minutes.
“He had a good game,” Brooks said. “Unfortunately, when you have good games and don't win you don't feel good about it. And I know Serge, I know him very well, he's not going to feel good that he had a good game because we didn't win. But he has played well. He's been playing well all season.”
LIGGINS LOGS MEANINGFUL MINUTES
With the Thunder struggling in the second half, Brooks surprisingly called upon seldom used guard DeAndre Liggins late in the third quarter and OKC trailing by two.
Liggins didn't disappoint. He supplied a brief spark, grabbing a pair of quick rebounds, drawing a charge and making a hard cut to the basket before getting fouled and earning a trip to the free throw line. He finished with two points and three rebounds in 4:50 of play.
“I'm always ready,” Liggins said. “When I got in, I just did what I do. That's play hard. That's my job. I just got to stay ready. Anything can happen. I just got to stay ready and keep working hard.”
Washington forward Trevor Ariza on Bradley Beal's game-winning shot — “A lot of players come in this league and don't hit shots like that ever. To get started that early, that's what we're looking for. We're expecting big things out of you. He's coming into his own early.”
Washington welcomed back Ariza and A.J. Price from injuries Monday, but the Wizards were without Nene and Jordan Crawford, their top two scorers, and Cartier Martin due to injuries. … The Wizards completed two four-point plays in Monday's game. … The Wizards are one of only two teams to defeat the Thunder and Heat, last year's NBA Finals participants. Memphis is the other. … Kevin Martin scored just eight points on 3-for-12 shooting Monday. He missed all six of his 3-point attempts. … Despite being without four players and playing just eight players major minutes, the Wizards' bench outscored the Thunder's 17-13.
By Darnell Mayberry