Jackson fights sprain, ready for Game 5


VIDEO: Thunder guard Reggie Jackson injures his right ankle in Game 4

OKLAHOMA CITY – Just when it seemed the Thunder must be snake-bit, Reggie Jackson‘s right ankle having turned so dramatically to the outside that it appeared to touch the floor, there he was chasing down a loose ball at the sideline and tossing an alley-oop to Kevin Durant.

Jackson said he expects to be back in the starting lineup for Thursday’s Game 5 of the Western Conference finals. That’s significant news for Oklahoma City, which has been on quite a roll since Jackson and Serge Ibaka joined the starting lineup in Game 3, helping to turn a series that was all San Antonio Spurs.

“It’s not really a big deal,” Jackson said after Tuesday’s trouncing of the Spurs. “No excuse. I think a lot of people about this time have a bum ankle or a ding-up. Just play through it.”

Playing through it hardly seemed possible after watching the replay multiple times. And even after the game as the typically feisty Jackson gingerly walked in shower shoes, it seemed the real damage might not be discovered until the morning.

But he seems to have escaped that trap.

“He’s feeling pretty good,” Thunder coach Scott Brooks said after a light team workout Wednesday. “He will get treatment throughout the day and then [Thursday], but he’s feeling pretty good today.”

Brooks said Ibaka is continuing to progress and has shown no ill-effects from playing in Games 3 and 4. He missed Games 1 and 2 with a Grade 2 calf strain that the team initially said would keep him out for the remainder of the playoffs.

Less than four minutes into Tuesday’s Game 4, Jackson drove to the basket. He planted his right foot on top of defender Danny Green‘s shoe and his ankle bent downward so far it wouldn’t have been surprising to see bone break flesh.

Jackson hopped all over the floor, flailing his arms in desperate hope of getting any one of the three referees to stop the game action. When the whistle finally blew, an agonizing Jackson hopped on his left leg to the baseline near the Thunder’s bench and crumpled to the floor.

He headed to the locker room, but returned to the bench and then started the second quarter in what seemed at the time to be an admirable, but unrealistic gut-check of his toughness. In the opening 1:25, Jackson missed a reverse layup, misfired a jumper, committed a turnover and then, again, limped off the floor.

“I liked Reggie coming back and trying to make another effort,” Brooks said. “It was a little too sore. I decided to rest him.”

Jackson’s night figured to be over, until he was back on the floor warming up with the team prior to the start of the season half. He would play more than eight minutes in the third quarter before Brooks, with the Thunder in control of the game, decided to rest him for the entire fourth.

“I would’ve played the entire game if I had to,” Jackson said. “I’d have found a way.”

No need on that night, but the fight is hardly over. Brooks has turned to Jackson as a replacement for slumping shooting guard Thabo Sefolosha, who has not played a minute since being benched before Game 3. Jackson played a team-high 37 minutes in that game and posted 15 points, five assists and four rebounds.

He and Ibaka have transformed a decidedly defensive starting lineup, with only Durant and Russell Westbrook as scoring threats, into a faster, attacking offense.

Jackson, 24, is another example of the Thunder’s researched drafting and player development. They drafted Jackson out of Boston College with the 24th pick in 2011. He averaged 11.1 mpg as a rookie with James Harden still on the team, and then just 14.2 mpg last year until he was called upon in the playoffs to replace injured Russell Westbrook.

Before that season, Jackson acknowledged, he began to doubt his ability to cut in the NBA. The playoffs boosted his confidence as he logged more than 30 mpg, but ultimately couldn’t help OKC get out of the second round.

Now he says he knows he belongs. After practice the day before Game 3, the very durable Jackson seemed pleased with his progress, but also sensed just how fragile a player’s body can be during the postseason.

“Hopefully, God-willing,” Jackson said, “I can stay healthy.”

It appears, a scare and some pain notwithstanding, he has.

5 Comments

  1. OKC says:

    all okc needs now are 2 more bigs for when collison and perk retire and they are set for the next 12 years

  2. jake s. says:

    OKC will have so many opportunities to win rings. There is no doubt in my mind that the next 6 or 7 years we will see almost all OKC – Miami. Similar to the L.A. – Boston series’. Excluding OKC’s 4 (decent) Veterans that are on their way out, OKC’s average age is around 23. Durant and Westbrook are changing NBA life stages in front of us. – - – - – My prediction is that in the next 10 years, OKC will make it to the finals 7 times. They will win 4 rings. Los Angeles Clippers will win 1. Miami will win 1 or 2 more. Spurs/Blazers/Pacers/Bulls all could grab one.

  3. okc2014 says:

    Go Reggie Jackson! Go Jeremy Lamb! Go Steven Adams! Go Perry Jones! OKC2014.

    • chris says:

      Honestly if OKC ends up beating the SPURS(possible repeat of 2012, I honestly see OKC falling to Miami just like in 2012(basically a possible repeat of 2012 for both western teams.) OKC is not good enough to beat Miami. BTW I’m a SPURS fan.

  4. Reggie Jackson has a huge opportunity this postseason to do what James Harden did a few years ago, show out.

    The Thunder need him to stay aggressive and Reggie should know that San Antonio does not have someone who can match up against him. He takes such a load off of Oklahoma’s main players because he forces San Antonio to pay attention to him and when he creates he opens up lanes for Durant and Westbrook to attack off the kick-out, though SA may live with Reggie getting hot than allowing Durant or Westbrook to get going.

    Now if OKC can get Perry Jones some confidence that would be magnificent! And while you’re there throw in some lobs for Steven Adams! Shoot tell Jeremy Lamb to fire away, lol!! This OKC is definitely talented, props for their staff to keep the young guys prepared.