4 min read

Reggie returns, and the Thunder win, 103-87


The Thunder got the ball on the opening possession and the Pistons fell back into their defensive shell. Kentavious Caldwell-Pope picked up Russell Westbrook, with Reggie Jackson on Andre Roberson.

A fan behind me yelled out, “Hey Reggie, why aren’t you guarding Russell?”

That was probably the best part of their fairly anticipated matchup.

Jackson, who was stuck in foul trouble throughout the night, finished with 15 points on 4-16 shooting, which included a banked in 3. Westbrook was worse, way worse, finishing with 14 on 5-14 shooting and 11 — yes, e-l-e-v-e-n — turnovers. And he fouled out with four minutes left.

It was Kevin Durant who did the heavy lifting, scoring 34 plus 13 rebounds and five assists, as the Thunder held down rebounding savant Andre Drummond and outscored Detroit 55-32 in the second half.

“Steven did a great job on their best player and Andre did a great job on their second best player in Pope and Russ did his job,” Durant said.

Oh, I see what you did there, KD.

There wasn’t any obvious on-court animosity between the Thunder and Jackson, and following the game there was a pleasant exchange between Westbrook, Durant and him. In the locker room, Westbrook did his thing, though, when asked about how the Thunder handled their former teammate in his return.

“Who?” Westbrook said, after very clearly hearing who he was asked about.

Reggie Jackson.

“What happened?”

The shade is strong with this one. You know Russ, the fans, the media, there was some hype here. I guess you were unaware.

“Nobody in this locker room, we wasn’t worried,” Westbrook said. “We just came out and competed. maybe from y’all. Just another player on another team.”

Other than that, it was a fine win for the Thunder, a fourth straight and one that takes them to 11-6, which apparently has them third in the West somehow. They appear to be finding some consistency, and kind of have that look to them of being a team figuring itself out. Not that they’ve made some grand leap since things were ugly a week ago, but putting Kevin Durant back on the floor simply has made them a better team. They can get back to sorting through some of their intended improvements, and while they are far from a finished product, there are a few incremental steps here. The fourth quarter execution, the defense, the rebounding. They kind of look that that Thunder team that’s pretty good.


  • Reggie Jackson got booed. In case you were wondering.
  • Jackson on it: “I love to be hated. It’s flattering, the greatest honor of them all. It’s love and spite all at the same time. They wouldn’t boo me if I didn’t do anything and build some memories here.”
  • One thing about Jackson: I’ve always appreciated his candidness. Even if it’s what got him in trouble.
  • Jackson’s foul trouble might’ve actually kind of hurt the Thunder in a weird way. There was absolutely no flow in the first half, and the energy in the building was really lacking. Maybe not, but a lot of this was supposed to be Jackson versus the Thunder, and the first half was missing that.
  • Fun back-to-back: Ilyasova dropped Serge Ibaka with a cross, then Durant came back and crossed Ilyasova into another galaxy on the next possession.
  • In my national anthem power rankings, Rob Clay is No. 1, forever and always. Dude just kills it every time.
  • I thought Dion Waiters was low-key excellent in this game. He really worked defensively and even with him not shooting well, not a lot of his 13 shots were that terrible and he had three very solid assists. That’s the thing with this Dion — he can go 4-13 from the field and not be horrible.
  • Tony Brothers might be a good ref. But one thing is for sure: He makes a lot of really blatantly bad calls.
  • Andre Drummond’s season-low was 10 rebounds coming in. Averaged 18 a game. He had seven. Incredible job by Steven Adams (who had 13 boards), Enes Kanter, Serge Ibaka and even Durant.
  • Adams has always done an excellent job on Drummond, even dating back to Summer League when they faced off a few years ago. Adams matches strength and isn’t averse to just digging in and doing a couple things well against the most physically gifted Drummond. Adams keeps a body on him constantly, boxes out, and just works.
  • Something Billy Donovan and Brad Stevens both have brought to the NBA from college is the mid-possession timeout. Don’t see it in the NBA, really ever.
  • Donovan had a really interesting answer about it, I thought: “Really the timeout was one to diagram something that we could maybe get a little bit of movement and two, was to say, ‘Listen, coming down the stretch here, we don’t need to get stagnant where we’re just holding the ball and letting the clock run down. We’ve got things where we can create some movement and cutting and you can use the clock and do those things. I was trying to one, get them organized on that possession but two, give them a few things they could run down the stretch instead of standing there and Kevin maybe taking the clock down to eight play a high pick-and-roll.”
  • Funniest thing about the one Donovan called tonight: It was right before Dion Waiters cranked a long 2 with 10 on the shot clock. Naturally, Waiters missed it but Donovan got his timeout right before.
  • I really like Stanley Johnson. He’s going to be good. I’m convinced.
  • Slightly odd: With Durant on the floor, Westbrook shot the technical free throw for the Thunder. Likely an attempt to get Westbrook going a bit, who was not shooting the ball well.
  • You know, it wouldn’t be the worst thing in the world to get Steven Adams a couple more post touches a game.
  • Kanter in just 18 minutes: 14 points and five rebounds. Per minute, he’s pretty effective. I thought Donovan managed him and Adams really well tonight.
  • Who had D.J. Augustin in the “who plays best against his former team?” tonight? If you had Kyle Singler, he lacked the “plays” part of that.
  • Donovan singled out Andre Roberson postgame, and rightfully so. Another really solid defensive performance, and one that showcased some of Roberson’s versatility. The Thunder were switching 1 through 4 for a time in the second half, and Roberson got caught in some tough matchup on Marcus Morris and Ersan Ilyasova and did a really good job on them.

Next up: At the Hawks on Monday