It began with a hug.
Reggie Jackson had just hit a running floater to put the finishing touches on a 14-2 run and give the Clippers a three-point lead with 36.7 seconds to play. OKC called timeout, and as Jackson walked to the bench, Paul George — who was responsible for 11 points and numerous stops in that stretch — met his buddy for an embrace at halfcourt.
“That shot can change his rhythm, that shot right there,” George had said after the victory over the Thunder. “It was really the biggest shot of the night to seal it and give us that three-point cushion. And so that could be all the confidence he needs going into the next game to make a shot when we needed him to. So it was just a great moment for me and him.”
Even after his heroics Monday, Jackson was shooting 33 percent on twos and 29 percent on threes through six games. Considering he shot 58 percent on twos and 41 percent on threes during the 2021 postseason, it was a dramatic fall from grace for the fan favorite.
Ty Lue says that Jackson’s confidence never wavers, and Terance Mann didn’t think there was any difference in the veteran’s demeanor after breaking through late against OKC. But Jackson admitted that he can go through lulls and question things, which is what must have made Wednesday’s outburst even sweeter.
After an agonizing missed three — one that touched every part of the rim before popping out — to begin the proceedings, Jackson responded by hitting his next shot. Then the next one, and then three more after that. By the end of the first quarter, he had 13 points on five made field goals, including three 3-pointers, which equaled a game-high for the young season.
“Surreal. Like, surreal, crazy, to see the ball go through the basket,” Jackson said postgame. “And I’m sitting here, not gonna lie, like I keep my confidence, but like, ‘Oh, snap, is that me who made that? Did that actually go in?’ OK. My teammates keep finding me for shots, to be the recipient of great offense, of us moving the ball, just had some shots going in today felt good.”
Jackson finished the night with 29 points and a career-high seven made threes to go along with eight assists. Big Government was back in the building.
“Like we talked about the last game, that last shot he took, it’s crazy just how this game works,” George said. “And I thought that shot took a lot of weight off. And tonight, you know, it showed. It looked like that, it took a lot of weight off of him. I thought he took the same shots he’s been taking. I think the difference is he knew those were his shots. You know, it wasn’t like he was trying to find his shots. He knew those were his shots tonight.”
After the game, Jackson credited his teammates for finding him within the offense and putting him in position to succeed, just as they have all season. But he also gave a special shout out to Brandon Boston, who had told Jackson to be nice to the rim. He heeded that advice after arriving in Minnesota, and the results followed.
And Boston’s reward for helping change Jackson’s fortunes? The veteran said he needed to find his rookie to give him a big hug.
More news for Thursday:
- The Ringer Group Chat discusses the Clippers panic meter.
- Cole Huff expresses some sympathy for the Clippers because of their injuries.
- Mirjam Swanson has more thoughts on L.A.’s rough shooting stretches, at least before last night.
- Seth Partnow dives into that data at the league level.
- I always love these stories on underrated players, and this one features seven.