Losing a top 10 player in the playoffs could've been a disaster for the Oklahoma City Thunder. Minus Russell Westbrook, it might still be a challenge for the Thunder to get back to the NBA Finals, but thanks to performances by two point guards -- one untested and the other very tested -- maybe even a little too tested -- against the Houston Rockets, there's less reason to panic.
Reggie Jackson, a second-year player who has spent much of his career third on the Thunder depth chart, and Derek Fisher, who is in his 17th season in the league, combined for 28 points on 11 for 21 shooting to go along with 11 rebounds, nine assists, three steals and just two turnovers in Oklahoma City's series-clinching win over the Houston Rockets Friday. Those performances were just the latest in a string of strong playoff performances for the duo since Westbrook's injury.
"For Reggie to step in and play four solid basketball games at the hardest position in basketball (after Westbrook's injury), he was terrific," said Brooks in the press conference after the game.
Jackson has averaged 18 points and nearly four assists per game while shooting just under 50 percent in those four games.
While Jackson, with his quickness and athleticism, is capable of some of the things plays a similar style to the more frenetic Westbrook, Fisher has brought a steadying hand and made big shots, including two fourth-quarter three-pointers Friday to help seal the win, in the playoffs. Fisher has averaged 10 points per game while hitting 56 percent of his shots in the last four games. Brooks raved about not only Fisher's production, but the intangible qualities he brings to the team after the game.
"It seems like I always have to defend Fish and what he brings to our team," Brooks said. "He's made our team better with his incredible will to win."
Brooks noted Fisher's defense on James Harden, who shot just 7 for 22 in Game 6, as well as his mentoring of Jackson.
"Reggie became a better player (when the team brought Fisher back this season) and that's not a coincidence," Brooks said.