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Thunder-Spurs: Reggie Jackson's new life as a starter hits the skids

COMMENTARY — The Spurs shut out Reggie Jackson for the final 25 minutes in Game 5, and the bench he left wasn’t much better in another Oklahoma City blowout loss in San Antonio.
by Jenni Carlson Published: May 30, 2014

SAN ANTONIO — Reggie Jackson snagged the ball when Russell Westbrook chucked a one-handed pass in his direction and didn’t hesitate.

Three ball.

Splash down.

Thursday night’s game wasn’t even a quarter old, and already, Jackson had scored double-digit points and had made every shot that he’d taken. He had buckets in transition, on drives, then came that three.

Flashbacks to James Harden, circa 2012?

Harden, you remember, had the big performance in Game 5 of the Western Conference Finals that year, punctuated by a game-clinching three late in the game. Jackson seemed to be playing the part of Harden two years later.

Trouble is, we’re still waiting for Jackson to hit another basket.

The corner three with 3:25 left in the first quarter was the last shot he hit Thursday night. He was held scoreless the final 23 minutes, 49 seconds that he played.

Worse for the Thunder, Jackson wasn’t the only role player who struggled in the Spurs’ 117-89 rout in Game 5.

“Role players are playing well at home, I guess,” Jackson said.

And not so well on the road. But if the Thunder is to win the last two games of this series, including a game back in San Antonio where the Spurs have looked immortal, role players will have to travel. Guys not named Kevin Durant and Russell Westbrook will have to be better than they were Thursday night.

Almost no amount of heroics from Batman and Superman could make up for their sidekicks’ shortcomings.

Serge Ibaka: six points on 3-of-10 shooting.

Steven Adams: six points, 3 of 4.

Derek Fisher: five points, 2 of 5.

Nick Collison: five points, 1 of 1.

Caron Butler: two points, 0 of 3.

Jeremy Lamb: four points, 2 of 6.

As good as Westbrook and Durant were offensively in the two games in Oklahoma City, they were helped a bunch by their helpers. Ibaka and Jackson put up big numbers in Game 3, then several players hit timely shots in Game 4. No one other than Durant and Westbrook scored in double figures that night, but Ibaka, Butler and Adams all knocked down shots when given the opportunity.

Thursday night, the Spurs could throw a little extra defensive focus on Durant and Westbrook because their Thunder teammates were so off kilter.

The Thunder scored 32 points in the first quarter, then managed only 57 the rest of the game.

“Our shots weren’t falling for us,” said Durant, who finished 11 of 21 for 25 points. “We’ve got to stay aggressive, and we’ve got to get stops. When we can’t make a shot, we’ve got to play defense, and we didn’t tonight.”

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by Jenni Carlson
Jenni Carlson, a sports columnist at The Oklahoman since 1999, came by her love of sports honestly. She grew up in a sports-loving family in Kansas. Her dad coached baseball and did color commentary on the radio for the high school football...
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