Reggie Jackson might've earned himself some more playing time.
On a night when the Thunder was as crisp as a boiled noodle, the little-used guard came off the bench and saved the day. He scored. He defended. But more than anything, he played with energy.
What he did wasn't easy.
But because of him, the Thunder squeaked out a victory.
Thunder 92, Hornets 88.
Even though Kevin Durant scored 35 points and Russell Westbrook had nine assists and Kevin Martin hit big threes and the Thunder held New Orleans to 39.8 percent shooting, no one had a bigger impact than Jackson.
“That's hard to do,” Thunder coach Scott Brooks said of coming off the bench cold and making such a big mark. “He hasn't played much, but he's always working. He's always ready for an opportunity, and he came in and did well.”
No doubt about that.
Jackson checked into the game with 1:46 left in the third quarter and the Thunder trailing by 11 points to the lowly Hornets.
Brooks was searching for anything to get his team going. He'd tried just about every combination of players, mixing and matching his starters and his subs throughout the first 2½ quarters of the game.
Nothing was working.
“We needed something different,” Brooks said. “We needed a change of scenery. The game, we didn't have the offensive rhythm, so we had to continue to search for ways to change things up.”
That's when Brooks called on Jackson.
Jackson, who had a one-game stint with the D-League 66ers just last week, has only played for the Thunder in 10 games this season. Most of his opportunities have come in mop-up duty.
That was the case in the last NBA game he played. It was almost two weeks ago against the Hornets. That night, the Thunder went to New Orleans and scored an early knockout punch, and Jackson was among the subs playing much of the second half.
But Wednesday night at The Peake was vastly different.
This was no garbage time.
This was prime time.
Jackson made an immediate impact. The first defensive possession he was on the court, his play on Austin Rivers forced a bad pass. Martin was able to step in front of it, grab it and sprint to the other end for an easy basket.
The very next defensive possession, Jackson was at it again. This time, he was the one who snagged the ball.
Not long after, Jackson attempted his first shot, a 3-pointer.
Jackson ended up playing 10 minutes, 58 seconds. Not much in the grand scheme of things. But in that short amount of time, he was 2 of 3 with five points, two rebounds and one steal.
His plus-minus was plus-12, second only on the team to Martin's plus-14.
During the time Jackson was on the court, the Thunder erased that double-digit deficit and took a lead that it wouldn't relinquish.
“Reggie's been here for a year now,” Durant said. “He knows what it takes.”
But still, it's not easy for a guy who has played limited minutes this season and had sat for the first hour-plus of this game to come in and save the day.
“You've just got to stay ready,” Jackson said. “Of course it's tough (sitting the bench), but once you get out there, especially in this atmosphere, it's easy to get going.”
Durant said: “He's not pouting that he's not playing. He's coming in working hard every single day just waiting on his chance. I'm glad he got that opportunity. Hopefully, he'll get more down the line.”
Durant reiterated that a few moments later.
“Hopefully, he gets more opportunities,” Durant said unsolicited. “That was a good showing for him.”
Sounds like Durant would like to see more of Jackson.
Why wouldn't he? Why wouldn't everyone?
“He did a good job,” Brooks said. “That's what I expected. That's what he expects out of himself.
Now, about that playing time ...
Jenni Carlson: Jenni can be reached at (405) 475-4125. Like her at facebook.com/JenniCarlsonOK, follow her at twitter.com/jennicarlson_ok or view her personality page at newsok.com/jennicarlson.