By R.L. Bynum

First came the dagger from Justin Jackson and then came his big smile.

Jackson’s clutch 3-pointer from 27 feet out with 14.9 seconds left helped the Oklahoma City Thunder overcome a triple-double from Giannis Antetokounmpo for a 114–109 victory Sunday night over the Milwaukee Bucks.

Coming off a 20-point game against Denver, Jackson played his best game of the season, and the Thunder needed every bit of his effort.

In his second start of the season, Jackson put up 22 points, four 3-pointers, four assists and a 19.2 game score in 34 minutes, all season-highs, to lead Oklahoma City scoring for a second consecutive game.

Darius Bazley saved the ball from going out of bounds before passing to Jackson for that key 3-pointer with the shot clock running down.

“I just stepped into it with confidence,” said Jackson, who has put up season-high point totals in three of the last four games. “You saw how the bench and everybody else reacted. So, for me, it’s about going out and playing with confidence because I know my teammates have my back.”

Jackson made all four 3-point attempts against the Bucks, has made seven of his last nine attempts and is averaging 16.3 points in the last four games. Jackson scored a total of 29 points in playing only five of the Thunder’s first 15 games but he has scored 65 in the last four games.

“I didn’t play much in the very beginning of the season,” Jackson said. “But, for me, I try to strive on being a true professional and always staying ready and take advantage of the opportunity that I have. Obviously, Coach has given me free rein and the ability to go out and play now, so I’m just trying to take advantage of it.”

Oklahoma City got the win after two overtime road losses to the reigning NBA champion Los Angeles Lakers and a two-point loss at Denver.

“We’ve been in so many tough battles recently, and for Justin to step up and take that one, if we would’ve had fans in here, the building would’ve went down at that point,” Thunder center Al Horford said. “It was just so exciting. The whole time when he shot it I was just like, ‘Please go in.’ One of those things that you wanted to work out and it did. That was the dagger.”

Jackson started in place of Hamidou Diallo. Shai Gilgeous-Alexander, who averages 22.6 points and 6.5 assists per game, missed his third consecutive game with a left knee strain. Gilgeous-Alexander’s backup Theo Maledon missed his fourth consecutive game because of COVID-19 protocols.

The 22 points and 19.2 game score were the most for Jackson since scoring 24 and had a 21.0 game score for Dallas against Philadelphia on April 1, 2019.

Jackson is one of three members of the 2017 UNC national championship team on an NBA roster, along with Philadelphia’s Tony Bradley and New York’s Theo Pinson, but he’s the only one to start two games this season. Bradley has started one game for the Sixers.

In the Sacramento Kings’ 124–110 home loss to Memphis, Harrison Barnes had eight points and four rebounds and has been held to single-digit points in three of his last four games. In that span, Barnes is 2 of 13 from 3-point range.

Wayne Ellington is on a similar scoring slump. He scored six points in the Detroit Pistons’ 123–112 home win over New Orleans and has a total of 31 points in his last six games.

Cole Anthony missed his third consecutive game with a strained right shoulder, a 109–90 loss for his Orlando Magic at Phoenix. For the Suns, Cameron Johnson had three points in 19 minutes.

For the third consecutive game and fifth time in the last seven, Ed Davis didn’t play for Minnesota. The Timberwolves snapped a four-game losing streak with a 116–112 road victory over Toronto.

How Tar Heels did Sunday, what’s next

Cole Anthony, Orlando Magic guard
109–90 loss at Phoenix
Out with strained right shoulder for third consecutive game
Season statistics — 25 games, 11.0 points, 4.4 rebounds, 3.8 assists, 37.4FG%, 32.4%3P, 83.6FT
Up next — Wednesday vs. New York, 7 p.m.; Friday vs. Golden State, 7 p.m.
Harrison Barnes, Sacramento Kings guard
124–110 loss vs. Memphis —
Started; 29 minutes, 8 points, 2–6 FG, 0–3 3FG, 4–6 FT, 4 rebounds, 2 assists, 1 steal, 1 turnover, -12, 6.0 game score
Season statistics — 26 games, 16.2 points, 6.3 rebounds, 3.5 assists, 48.6FG%, 40.2%3P, 84.3FT%
Up next — Monday vs. Brooklyn, 10 p.m.; Thursday vs. Miami, 10 p.m.
Tony Bradley, Philadelphia Sixers center/forward
No game
Season statistics
— 10 games, 4.1 points, 5.0 rebounds, 0.6 of an assist, 52.8 FG%, 0–0 3FG, 3–5 FT
Up next —
Monday at Utah, 9 p.m.; Wednesday vs. Houston, 7:30 p.m., ESPN
Reggie Bullock, New York Knicks guard/forward
No game
Season statistics —
23 games, 8.7 points, 3.6 rebounds, 1.3 assists, 40.9FG%, 38.5%3P, 78.6FT%
Up next — Monday vs. Atlanta, 7:30 p.m.; Wednesday at Orlando, 7 p.m.
Ed Davis, Minnesota Timberwolves center/forward
116–112 win vs. Toronto in Tampa — Didn’t play
Season statistics — 19 games, 2.3 points, 5.1 rebounds, 1.0 assist, 41.9FG%, 0–0 3FG, 87.5FT%
Up next — Tuesday vs. Los Angeles Lakers, 8 p.m.; Wednesday vs. Indiana, 8 p.m.
Wayne Ellington, Detroit Pistons guard
123–112 win vs. New Orleans — Started; 21 minutes, 6 points, 2–6 FG, 2–5 3FG, 1 rebound, 2 assists, -3, 3.1 game score
Season statistics — 20 games, 10.9 points, 2.0 rebounds, 1.1 assists, 46.3FG%, 44.4 3P%, 75.0FT%
Up next — Tuesday vs. San Antonio, 7 p.m.; Wednesday at Dallas, 9 p.m.
Danny Green, Philadelphia 76ers forward
No game
Season statistics — 27 games, 8.7 points, 3.7 rebounds, 1.8 assists, 40.0FG%, 36.7%3P 71.4FT%
Up next —
Monday at Utah, 9 p.m.; Wednesday vs. Houston, 7:30 p.m., ESPN
Justin Jackson, Oklahoma City Thunder forward
114–109 win vs. Milwaukee —
Started; 34 minutes, 22 points, 9–16 FG, 4–4 3FG, 3 rebounds, 5 assists, 1 steal, 1 turnover, +/- of 0, 19.2 game score
Season statistics —
16 games, 8.2 points, 2.6 rebounds, 1.8 assists, 46.3FG%, 34.0%3P, 81.3FT%
Up next — Tuesday vs. Portland, 8 p.m.; Wednesday at Memphis, 9 p.m.
Cameron Johnson, Phoenix Suns wing
109–90 win vs. Orlando —
19 minutes, 3 points, 1–5 FG, 1–3 3FG, 2 rebounds, 1 assist, 1 block, +1, 1.5 game score
Season statistics —
26 games, 10.9 points, 3.6 rebounds, 1.5 assists, 43.7FG%, 36.7%3P, 86.2FT%
Up next — Tuesday vs. Brooklyn, 10 p.m., TNT; Friday at New Orleans, 8 p.m.
Nassir Little, Portland Blazers forward/guard
121–118 win at Dallas —
5 minutes, 3 points, 1–2 FG, 1–1 3FG, 1 rebound, 1 turnover, +/- of 0, 1.3 game score
Season statistics —
11 games, 4.5 points, 2.1 rebounds, 0.2 of an assist, 50.0%FG, 57.1%3P, 88.9FT%
Up next — Tuesday at Oklahoma City, 8 p.m.; Wednesday at New Orleans, 9 p.m.
Theo Pinson, New York Knicks guard/forward
No game
Season statistics — 9 games, 2 points, 1–7 FG, 0–6 3FG, 1 rebound
Up next — Monday vs. Atlanta, 7:30 p.m.; Wednesday at Orlando, 7 p.m.
Coby White, Chicago Bulls point guard
No game
Season statistics —
25 games, 15.6 points, 4.6 rebounds, 5.4 assists, 40.7FG%, 36.3%3P, 87.0 FT
Up next — Monday at Indiana, 7 p.m.; Wednesday at Charlotte, 7 p.m., FSS

What is a game score? Here is an exclamation.

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