Jackson leads Thunder into meeting with Jazz

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(SportsNetwork.com) - Former Oklahoma City Thunder star James Harden feels Reggie Jackson deserves a big payday when it's appropriate.

Harden and Jackson were teammates in Oklahoma City for the 2011-12 campaign, and the latter is carrying the load for the Thunder with superstars Kevin Durant (foot) and Russell Westbrook (hand) sidelined with injuries.

Jackson leads the Thunder in points (21.5) and assists (7.6).

"He has to get the money that he's earned and that he's worked his whole life for. It's the nature of the business," Harden said of Jackson in The Oklahoman.

Jackson will lead Oklahoma City into Salt Lake City Tuesday in a matchup with the Northwest-rival Utah Jazz and hopes to reverse his team's latest fortunes. The Thunder have lost two in a row and three of four games, and fell to 3-8 on the season with Sunday's 69-65 loss to Harden and the Houston Rockets.

Harden hit the go-ahead 3-pointer with 1:19 left in the game and scored a game-best 19 points. Jackson had 15 points, 11 rebounds and four assists, while Lance Thomas posted 15 points and Serge Ibaka ended with 10 and six boards. OKC, which missed its last four shots, made only 29.4 percent from the floor and committed 16 turnovers.

"That was a very physical game," Thunder coach Scott Brooks said. "I don't like the outcome, but I'm proud of the effort."

Thunder forward Perry Jones (knee) did not play against Houston and is listed as doubtful for Tuesday's game. Jones has missed the last six games.

Oklahoma City is only 1-5 on the road and will visit Denver Wednesday. It has led four times in the second half in those six road contests.

Utah is back home briefly following an unsuccessful road trip (2-3) and suffered a 111-93 loss against the Toronto Raptors on Saturday, as Derrick Favors and Enes Kanter scored 18 points apiece.

Gordon Hayward and Trey Burke both netted 12 points for the Jazz, who shot 44 percent for the game and allowed 65 points in the second half. Alec Burks chipped in 10 points and 10 rebounds.

The game featured 20 lead changes and was tied seven times.

"They're a very good team and tough to defend when they get going," Jazz coach Quin Snyder said of the Atlantic-leading Raptors.

Snyder's squad will return to the road Friday at Golden State.

Jazz top guard Hayward is averaging 20.8 points, 5.4 rebounds and 4.4 assists this month, and leads the team with 19.2 ppg. Hayward scored 33 points in last Friday's win at New York.

The Thunder went 3-1 against the Jazz last season and have won 14 of the past 19 games in this series. The two Northwest foes have split the past 18 matchups in Salt Lake City.