Originally Published: January 22, 2014

1. With Durant Afire, Jackson Fanning Flames

By Andrew McNeill | TrueHoop Network

SAN ANTONIO -- Only a handful of questions from some pesky reporters stood between Reggie Jackson and a postgame shower. You wouldn't blame him if he wanted to take his time before addressing the media.

"I'm just gonna put on a T-shirt and get this over with," Jackson said to no one in particular as he turned around to throw a white undershirt on over his towel and then face the recorders.

Tedious though it may be, Jackson will need to get used to the attention if he continues to perform against the Western Conference's best the way he does against the Spurs. On a night when Kevin Durant continued his blistering scoring performances, putting up 36 points on 22 shots for his ninth straight game of 30-plus points, Jackson added to the onslaught, scoring 27 points, with eight assists and zero turnovers against San Antonio in a 111-105 win. Oklahoma City is now 10-5 without Russell Westbrook this season.

Reggie Jackson
Soobum Im/USA TODAY SportsHelping fill the void left by Russell Westbrook, Reggie Jackson scored 27 points in the Thunder's win in San Antonio.

"I thought he did a good job of finding spots on the floor that he can finish around the rim and he also does a good job of finding guys that are open," Thunder coach Scott Brooks said.

Jackson's performance in San Antonio on Wednesday night continues a positive trend for the third-year guard against the No. 2 team in the Western Conference. He has scored at least 20 points in six games this season, and three of those performances have come against the Spurs, averaging 23.7 points and 4.7 assists versus San Antonio.

With the two teams widely expected to collide in the Western Conference finals this spring, Jackson could pick worse teams to have standout performances against.

"I guess I have a tendency to find some holes and weak spots against them," Jackson said. "Their bigs, their defensive scheme is kind of playing off and playing back, so I get a few floaters going early and I think I've just been feeling good."

Indeed, the Spurs big men don't attack opposing guards on pick-and-rolls, preferring instead to hang back in the lane and prevent layups. Any ability to hit the shots presented between the 3-point line and the rim are there for the taking.

Jackson followed that scouting report to the letter. Floaters and pull-up jumpers early opened up the floor for Jackson and the Thunder as the game wore on, especially when Kawhi Leonard left the game in the first half with a non-displaced fracture of the fourth metacarpal on his right hand.

With no backup small forward to put on Durant, the Spurs rotated the likes of Manu Ginobili, Marco Belinelli and Cory Joseph on the league's leading scorer. In the fourth quarter, Jackson scored a team-high 13 points on 6-for-8 shooting and helped the Thunder maintain the lead.

While the Spurs did an admirable job on Durant -- they forced him into committing 11 turnovers, prompting Durant to label himself "dumb" -- the MVP contender continued his scoring tear and hit a pair of 3-pointers late to put the game out of reach.

"Having a guy like that on your team and in your corner," Jackson said of Durant, "I think the mindset is just stay close in the game and normally he'll bring it home."

And bring it home Durant did. KD will always produce big performances and draw the most attention, both on and off court, but Jackson is starting to find his share of attention as he comes through for the Thunder when the spotlight is on. So far, he's showing he can handle it on the court. As for off of it? The first step is being dressed for the occasion.

Andrew McNeill writes about the NBA at 48 Minutes Of Hell, part of the TrueHoop Network.

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