Steve Kerr is fully aware of Jaren Jackson’s poor play that significantly inflicted Team USA’s 2023 World Cup record in the hands of Lithuania.
Speaking in front of reporters after his U.S. squad absorbed a 110-104 emphatic defeat against the Baltic Giants, Kerr stressed out Jackson Jr.’s sudden negative presence which played a major role in their interior struggle for the entire evening.
“Jaren, he’s gotta be better with that. First foul of the game—he can’t get that one and he knows that. We’ll show the film and we need him on the floor. He’s one of our best players,” Kerr said.
Facing a highly imposing, physical big in Jonas Valanciunas, Jackson Jr. quickly hit the U.S. bench due to foul troubles, drawing two immediate whistles from the referees as early as the first three minutes of the match.
His absences at the court severely impacted the Lithuanians’ sizzling first half as they managed to post by as much as a 21-point margin over the United States. In the end, the Memphis Grizzlies star was dominantly outlasted by Valanciunas at the center battle as he ended up having more fouls (5) than points (3) and rebounds (1).
With his passive demeanor at the glass as well, Lithuania owned the contest at the rebounding battle with 43 totals (18 offensive boards) over the United States’ 27.
“The early fouls changed the game for sure, and you saw how effective he was when he’s on the court,” Kerr added.
“He’s gotta improve with that and he knows that.”
Jackson Jr. has a chance to recover himself from the frontcourt blunder he had against Lithuania as he and the United States are about to face Italy in the World Cup’s quarterfinal round on Tuesday.