Thunder-Jazz Preview

The Associated Press

Even though he's filling in for All-Star point guard Russell Westbrook, Reggie Jackson isn't likely to become more of a pass-first player. His team doesn't want that anyway.

Coming off a career high in points, Jackson is likely to remain aggressive Tuesday night when the Thunder go for the second-longest road winning streak in franchise history in a matchup with the Utah Jazz.

Oklahoma City (27-7) has won its last eight games away from home. The only time the franchise enjoyed a longer road streak came when the Seattle SuperSonics took 10 straight Jan. 3-Feb. 5, 1995.

Two of the victories on this run have come without Westbrook, and Oklahoma City is 4-2 overall since he underwent knee surgery that is expected to sideline him through the All-Star break. Jackson has averaged 4.6 assists - only one above his season mark - since taking over the starting spot vacated by Westbrook, who handed out 7.0 per game.

Jackson, though, is more of a scorer, proven by his career-best 27-point performance in a 119-96 win over Boston on Sunday. The Thunder improved to 15-0 this season when he scores above his season average of 12.8.

"He was Reggie. He just played his game," center Kendrick Perkins told the team's official website. "That's what he has to do and we have to keep encouraging him as a team and as an organization, to be Reggie. We can't make him be anything that he's not.

"He's a score-first, attack point guard. We need that out of him. We need him to be aggressive."

Jackson isn't feeling any additional burden to perform well with Westbrook out.

"Pressure bursts pipes or makes diamonds," he said. "I'm cool with it. I put a lot on myself and I expect big things from myself."

Jackson started for an injured Westbrook in both matchups with the Jazz (11-25) this season, and the Thunder won both. They've won four straight and 10 of 12 in the series, though they needed Kevin Durant's 42 points and a pair of free throws from both him and Jackson in the final seconds to win 101-98 in Utah to open the season.

"They're still a great team," Jazz forward Marvin Williams said after practice Monday. "They got guys more than capable of stepping in and getting the job done. They've been playing really well all year. ... We're still gonna have to come to compete even though they don't have Westbrook."

The Jazz have won three in a row on the road after a 3-10 start, but all of those victories were against sub-.500 teams. Only two of their 11 wins have come against teams which currently have winning records.

Gordon Hayward has scored 22 points in back-to-back games after two straight nine-point efforts. Trey Burke, meanwhile, has totaled 17 points on 6-of-24 shooting in two January games after winning Western Conference rookie of the month for December.

That duo combined for nine points on 4-of-18 shooting in a 95-73 loss at Oklahoma City on Nov. 24 in the teams' last meeting.

Durant has 82 points over the Thunder's last two road games. Oklahoma City is averaging 108.9 points on 48.9 percent shooting during its eight-game win streak away from home.

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