Reggie Jackson will remember this night for the rest of his life.
Jackson had a career night for the Oklahoma City Thunder on Saturday, scoring a playoff career-high 32 points on 11-of-16 shooting to go along with nine rebounds, including three on the offensive end in a 92-89 win over the Memphis Grizzlies. Jackson came up big for the Thunder time after time, being their leader tonight in not only the scoring department, but in the morale part as well. The Thunder did not have much going for them as a whole, because they were thoroughly outplayed for the most part in terms of being shut down by Memphis. Stars Kevin Durant and Russell Westbrook had another poor shooting night, combining for 11-of-45 from the field. Both players simply could not get anything to fall, and the frustration was evident on both of their faces throughout the game.
Jackson, however, did not let anything get to the team.
When the Grizzlies would fight back and push forward, Jackson was there to make a clutch lay up in the lane. When Memphis took the lead, Jackson was there to tie the game or help the Thunder move forward. Jackson’s biggest moment in the game was when he scored five straight points to tie the game at 80 before it eventually went into overtime, where the Thunder were able to pull away for the win.
The other huge performer for the Thunder was Serge Ibaka, scoring 12 points on 6-for-11 shooting along with 14 rebounds and five timely blocks. Ibaka was a force on the defensive end, blocking key shot after key shot and keeping the Thunder in the game on that end of the floor. Not only was his defense superb, but Ibaka’s ability to make jump shots kept the Thunder in the game long enough for Jackson to lead the team to victory. Without Ibaka’s reliable floor spacing ability evident throughout the game, Jackson would not have had the room that he had to drive into the lane and make play after play for Oklahoma City.
As a team, the Thunder did something very important to secure the win — hit free throws.
As a team, the Thunder shot 18-of-20 from the free throw line, while the Grizzlies could only muster up 13-of-23 from the charity stripe. The Grizzlies did not hit enough free throws, and as a result, the Thunder were able to claw through adversity and win despite the poor shooting numbers as a whole (36.7 percent shooting from the field and 28.6 percent from three).
With this win, the Thunder will go back home for the fifth game in the series, and will look to put the series out of reach with a big win on their own turf. The Grizzlies played great defense, but the team will have to look at ways to get better shots, and more importantly, hit free throws.
The Thunder may have won an ugly game, but a win is a win in the playoffs. Now, Oklahoma City must capitalize and take full control.
After all, anything can happen in the NBA playoffs.