http://espn.go.com/blog/okc-thunder/post/_/id/175/the-thunders-reggie-jackson-problemOKLAHOMA CITY -- Reggie Jackson stood at his locker, wrapping his iPhone earbuds around his neck before he picked up his "baby" as he calls it: a heavy basketball that he carries around darn near everywhere he goes.
Jackson was next to newcomer Dion Waiters, as their lockers are now side-by-side in the Oklahoma City Thunder locker room in an awkward twist. With cameras and reporters all huddled around the two, Jackson turned to leave inconspicuously, which left Waiters to speak with the assembled media. It was Waiters, after all, who closed the Thunder's 99-94 win over the Jazz by hitting an important 3-point dagger on a kickout from Kevin Durant with 30 seconds left. Waiters played 27 minutes in his home Thunder debut, including the final eight, while Jackson saw only 15, tied for the fewest this season and matching a blowout over the Hornets in which he sat most of the fourth.
"It's not Dion over Reggie," coach Scott Brooks said after the game. "It's Dion was playing solid defense and competing and pressuring the ball and not giving up anything easy, so he got the minutes tonight."
All those things Brooks said Waiters was doing are things Jackson doesn't do with any consistency. His on-ball defense is a constant issue for the team and a significant liability for an otherwise stout defensive team. Jackson's 103.9 defensive rating is the worst among regular rotation players on the Thunder. With him off the court, it drops to 96.4, easily the biggest gap on the team. If Brooks picked Waiters in crunch time over Jackson for those reasons, it's likely to happen more often.
"Going forward, minutes are earned," Brooks said. "Those bench minutes are going to be very competitive. But I like [Waiters'] intensity, I like his commitment to stopping the ball. That's been a problem of ours, and we have to get better with that, and I think he did a good job of it tonight."