On Tuesday night, he first entered the game late in the first quarter, with the Thunder trailing the Kings by 10. He didn't take a seat until halftime, with OKC leading by three. Then, after the Kings tied it up late in the third quarter, Jackson re-entered. Over the next five minutes, OKC went on a game-changing 18-0 run, sparked by Jackson's playmaking.
“He's just growing, getting better, making the right plays,” Kevin Durant said of Jackson. “He's the guy we kind of go to down there in the fourth.”
High praise from one of the NBA's best closers, who had 27 points and 11 rebounds to pace OKC on Tuesday night. But Jackson is backing up that confidence.
In a recent win over the Spurs, Jackson had 14 points in the fourth. Then this past Sunday against Minnesota, he had 11 on 5-of-5 shooting in the deciding quarter.
And on Tuesday night, he had five of the game's biggest points, drilling a late 3-pointer and scoring on an easy blow-by layup in the final six minutes.
The Thunder's team-wide performance was a spotty one, narrowly holding off one of the league's worst teams playing without its best player (DeMarcus Cousins was out with an injury).
But Jackson's continued emergence in crunch time was again the biggest positive.
He wasn't the most explosive reserve on the floor Tuesday night — that title belonged to Isaiah Thomas — but Jackson may have been the most influential.