Oklahoma City Thunder turns to new and improved Reggie Jackson

REGGIE JACKSON — The second-year guard has supplanted Eric Maynor as Russell Westbrook's backup. He's done it with benefit of assets that weren't available to him in last year's lockout-shortened season.
by Darnell Mayberry Published: December 28, 2012

photo - REACTION: Oklahoma City Thunder's Reggie Jackson (15) reacts in the final seconds of the Thunder win over New Orleans during the NBA basketball game between the Oklahoma CIty Thunder and the New Orleans Hornets at the Chesapeake Energy Arena on Wednesday, Dec. 12, 2012, in Oklahoma City, Okla.   Photo by Chris Landsberger, The Oklahoman
REACTION: Oklahoma City Thunder's Reggie Jackson (15) reacts in the final seconds of the Thunder win over New Orleans during the NBA basketball game between the Oklahoma CIty Thunder and the New Orleans Hornets at the Chesapeake Energy Arena on Wednesday, Dec. 12, 2012, in Oklahoma City, Okla. Photo by Chris Landsberger, The Oklahoman

Reggie Jackson went high in the air and hauled in a defensive rebound with 37 seconds remaining in the opening quarter Tuesday at Miami. When he landed, he quickly surveyed the court.

To his right was Russell Westbrook. Taking off in front of him was Kevin Martin.

Jackson had a decision to make: pass it to one of his go-to scoring options, or initiate the offense himself. Without hesitation, he settled on the latter, scooting up court with five dribbles before tossing up a floater while getting fouled on the play.

Only four seconds elapsed off the game clock, preserving a pivotal two-for-one scoring opportunity for the Thunder.

“Last year, I definitely didn't have the confidence to do that,” Jackson said.

Meet the new and improved Reggie Jackson.

The Thunder's reserve point guard has become more comfortable and confident in his second season and is now looking to show off his skills as the newly-named backup to Westbrook. After giving a recovering Eric Maynor 25 games to find his rhythm following last year's knee injury, Thunder coach Scott Brooks handed Jackson the keys to the second unit three games ago.

It's his show now, and the Thunder is hoping that in his second season Jackson has matured and moved past much of his erratic play from a season ago.

“I was trying to find myself last year,” Jackson said. “I wasn't who I am accustomed to being.”

There are reasons to believe this year could be different for Jackson, starting with the natural progression players make in their sophomore seasons. Already, Jackson has shown growth as a shooter, ball-handler and decision-maker.

But Jackson is benefiting from a long list of experiences that a lockout-shortened season robbed him of as a rookie.

He didn't play summer league last year. He didn't have a full training camp. He didn't have many practices during a compacted schedule. He didn't have health on his side.

Coming into this year?

He had summer league. He had training camp. He had practice time. He's had health.

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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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Thunder at Houston Rockets

When: 7 p.m. Saturday

Where: Toyota Center, Houston

TV: Fox Sports Oklahoma (Cox 37/HD 722, DirecTV 679, Dish, U-Verse 754/HD 1754).

Radio: WWLS 98.1-FM, WWLS 640-AM

Three things to know

* This is the second of three games the Thunder and Rockets will play this season. Oklahoma City defeated Houston 120-98 on Nov. 28 inside Chesapeake Energy Arena. Former Thunder guard James Harden was held to 17 points on 3-for-16 shooting in that game.

* After earning Player of the Month in November, Kevin Durant is averaging 31.5 points, 7.7 rebounds, 4.0 assists, 1.2 steals and 0.9 blocks in December.

* Houston had won five straight prior to Friday's game at San Antonio.

Projected starters

Thunder (22-6)

Pos.;Player;Ht.;Pts.;Reb.;Ast.

G;Russell Westbrook;6-3;21.2;5.1;8.7

G;Thabo Sefolosha;6-7;6.9;4.3;1.6

F;Kevin Durant;6-9;28.5;8.4;4.2

F;Serge Ibaka;6-10;14.4;8.5;0.3

C;Kendrick Perkins;6-10;4.6;5.2;1.4

Rockets (16-12)

Pos.;Player;Ht.;Pts.;Reb.;Ast.

G;Jeremy Lin;6-3;11.9;3.9;6.2

G;James Harden;6-5;25.8;4.5;5.3

F;Chandler Parsons;6-9;14.9;6.3;3.7

F;Marcus Morris;6-9;8.9;4.2;0.9

C;Omer Asik;7-0;10.9;11.8;1.1

* Rockets record and stats are through Thursday.

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