Move over Michael Jordan, there’s a new gimmick in town. His Airness’ famous NBA Finals game in which he nailed six threes is a monumental moment in NBA history. Although Reggie Jackson’s seven three-pointer performance against the Timberwolves is not as prolific, Clipper fans are ecstatic regardless. But Jackson’s dazzling display was not a result of build-up within the game. As a matter of fact, it may have been conceived from a moment at half-court during the Clippers’ last game vs. the Oklahoma City Thunder. While Michael Jordan had ‘The Shrug’, Clipper fans will remember ‘The Hug’, so long as Jackson continues to shoot the ball well.
Michael Jordan had ‘The Shrug’, Reggie Jackson has ‘The Hug’
The Los Angeles Clippers guard was struggling to start the season. During the first six games, Jackson shot 31% from the field and 29.1% from three. His subpar start had Clipper fans questioning if his performance in the playoffs was a flash in the pan. The Minnesota Timberwolves learned that was not the case as Jackson had a bounce-back game to lead his team to victory.
But the culmination of Jackson’s performance may be more fascinating than the actual game itself.
Clippers come back against the Thunder
The Clippers were off to a shotty shooting start against the Oklahoma City Thunder. No one besides Paul George could get into a rhythm. Shots clanked left and right off the rim. Clipper fans grew unhappy with their team’s performance. But everything changed when George decided to take the game over. With an array of step-back, pull-up, and size-up scoring, George led the Clippers back into striking distance.
It was a performance that stood as a reminder that George is a perennial MVP candidate this season. Though he brought the team back in a position to win the game, he got some help from his long-time friend to seal the deal.
Jackson, who was four of sixteen shooting, took the load off George’s shoulders as he took the ball from the left wing and drove to the middle of the paint. Although cut off by Kenrich Williams from getting to the basket, Jackson threw up a floater. The shot was well contested and could have been considered ‘a prayer’. However, that prayer was answered as the ball bounced off the rim and backboard a few times before nestling down the net.
The Thunder called timeout, but at half-court, a special moment occurred. George greeted Jackson with a high-five, followed by a warm embrace with his best friend.
“I needed that hug,” Jackson told the LA Times. And boy did he ever.
‘The Hug’ Game
The poor shooting finally came to an end as Jackson exorcised his demons against the Minnesota Timberwolves and reminded everyone (including himself) what is he capable of.
In their 126-115 win, the third-year Clipper notched 29 points, five rebounds, and eight assists on 61.1% shooting, including 77.8% from three. Jackson was also second in the team in +/- with a +12 rating, second to Nicolas Batum’s +13. The Clippers overall had their best three-point shooting game of the season. Arguably their best offensive game of the season as well.
It was not just the shooting that was impressive. The confidence with which Jackson played exhibited no indication that he was going through any slump at all. It started with a backdoor layup to see the ball go through the hoop. Then the first three dropped, then the next. Then the next. All of a sudden, the box score shows 13 points in the first frame for the electric point guard.
The performance was one to marvel at as Jackson continued to display his dynamic dribbling and scintillating scoring. All encapsulated by an assist on his knees to Batum to ice the game with a corner three to make the game 121-113 with two minutes and fifty-four seconds remaining. Later, with 1:34 left in the game, Jackson drained a dagger three in the corner to build an 11 point lead for the Clippers, thus capping off the famous ‘Hug Game’.