San Antonio Spurs v Oklahoma City Thunder - Game Three

Thunder’s Reggie Jackson admits he’d like to start next year

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A few weeks ago this would have seemed a longshot, now it seems logical.

Thunder coach Scott Brooks is very wed to his starting five — for evidence see Kendrick Perkins — and the defensive minded Thabo Sefolosha was part of that. But needing more offense against the San Antonio Spurs Brooks benched Sefolosha and started Reggie Jackson — and it worked the Thunder offense was improved. The defense struggled when he was switched onto Kawhi Leonard but that wasn’t about Jackson so much as what the Spurs do well.

Jackson got a taste of starting and wants to keep doing it, he said at his exit interview, as reported by Royce Young at Daily Thunder.

“I’d like to be a starter. I’m not going to lie.”

So, Brooks, how about that? Willing to change your starting rotation?

“Positions are available,” he said. “I can say that….

“I hate to put myself in that position (keeping Jackson in starting five) because who knows what will happen over the summer … [Reggie] can play both positions, as can Russ. They can play together, that was proven in this series.”

The other factor here is Sefolosha is a free agent. He has never been a scorer but he has been a long, quality defender who on offense was a threat as a spot-up three point shooter… until this season. He shot just 31.6 percent from three. In 2013 he shot 46 percent on corner threes, in 2014 34 percent. You can’t be a “3 and D” player without the three, and he was this season.

The Thunder may not bring him back. OKC is not in a position to easily make a lot of roster changes — they are over the cap at $68 million even without a new Sefolosha contract. This is a small market team not spending way over the cap and any moves they make are more likely to be trades, or just counting on internal improvement.

Counting more on Jackson. It seems a smart move. He’s earned a starting spot.

Chris Paul finds brilliant counter to hack-a-DeAndre Jordan (video)

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I originally favored allowing Hack-a-Shaq as the NBA currently does. I found the strategy fascinated – why and when teams would use it and how their opponents would counter.

But it just became too common. Far too many games featured a parade of trips to the line, a boring stretch that made games too long. I thought the intrigue had run its course.

Then, Chris Paul pulled this move last night.

The Clippers guard saw Jonas Jerebko charging toward DeAndre Jordan to commit an intentional foul, so Paul stepped in front of an unsuspecting Jerebko and took the foul himself. That’s sent a good free-throw shooter to the line instead of the dismal Jordan.

Just an awesome heady play by Paul.

PBT Podcast: NBA All-Star Weekend talk, predictions with Sean Highkin

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NBA All-Star weekend descends upon frigid Toronto starting Friday, with everything from the Rookie/Sophomore… er, Rising Stars Challenge on Friday, the Dunk Contest/Three-Point Contest on Saturday, and the main event on Sunday.

Kurt Helin and Sean Highkin of NBC’s ProBasketballTalk break it all down, from Pau Gasol replacing Jimmy Butler to predictions on the Dunk Contest and if anyone can knock off Zach LaVine. Plus, there is plenty of “why Sting?” talk.

PBT will be in Toronto with reports from the event all weekend, so come back early and often for all the latest (plus trade talk, as all the GMs get together in one city where it’s too cold for them to go outside).

As always, you can listen to the podcast below, or listen and subscribe via iTunesdownload it directly here, or you can check out our new PBT Podcast homepage, which has the most recent episodes available. If you have the Stitcher app, you can listen there as well.

Pistons retire Chauncey Billups’ jersey at halftime (VIDEO)

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AUBURN HILLS, Mich. (AP) — Moments before his jersey went up to the rafters, Chauncey Billups spoke to the crowd about the night the Detroit Pistons wrapped up the 2004 NBA title by routing the Los Angeles Lakers in Game 5 of the Finals.

“We had one motivation,” he said. “We wanted to win it here at home.”

Billups was the most valuable player in the Finals that year, and he had his No. 1 jersey retired by the Pistons on Wednesday night at halftime of their game against Denver.

He was the second player from that 2004 team honored by the Pistons this year. The Pistons retired Ben Wallace’s jersey last month at a similar ceremony – in front of a packed house on a night Detroit beat Golden State.

There were some empty seats in the upper level Wednesday, but Billups wanted to be honored while the Pistons were playing the Nuggets. Billups is a Denver native and played for the Nuggets for two stints during his career.

“This was by design, only because there’s a lot of people that contributed to my success as a player and as a man, in Denver, my hometown,” Billups said before the game. “There were several dates that I could have chosen. This one obviously stuck out.”

Billups does have a mild regret about his run of success with the Pistons. He figures they could have won more titles.

“I felt like, two and maybe three championships – we were that good,” he said.

Ben Wallace was on hand Wednesday, and so were Richard Hamilton, Rasheed Wallace and Tayshaun Prince from the 2004 champions. Pistons great Isiah Thomas was also at the Palace for the ceremony.

“This is what tradition looks like,” Thomas told the crowd. “This is what it feels like.”