LOS ANGELES — The game is two days away, but the trash talk began two weeks ago. Soon after the NBA announced its nine-man teams for the annual Rookie Challenge at All-Star Weekend, Thunder teammates Jeff Green, Kevin Durant and Russell Westbrook began having some good-natured fun. We think. "They’re already talking trash to one another about the rookie game,” said Thunder coach Scott Brooks. "Who’s going to get the first dunk on who. Talking about, ‘Don’t take it to the basket or you’re going to get fouled hard.’” After tonight’s game at Portland, the Thunder’s young trio will go from friends to foes as they head into the All-Star Weekend. Durant and Green will lead the sophomore team against Westbrook and the rest of the rookies. "I’m going to try to dunk on him,” Green said of Westbrook. "I’m going to try to foul him on the first play very hard and tell him that it’s not going to be easy.” Durant and Green will be joined on the sophomore team by Detroit’s Rodney Stuckey, Atlanta’s Al Horford, New York’s Wilson Chandler, Houston’s Aaron Brooks and Luis Scola, Philadelphia’s Thaddeus Young and the Los Angeles Clippers’ Al Thornton. Westbrook’s rookie teammates include Memphis’ O.J. Mayo and Marc Gasol, Portland’s tandem of Greg Oden and Rudy Fernandez, Chicago’s Derrick Rose, Miami’s Michael Beasley, New Jersey’s Brook Lopez and the Clippers’ Eric Gordon. "I think we’ve got a better team if you ask me,” Westbrook said. "They’re big, though. I’ll give them that.” Durant, who led all rookies with 23 points in last year’s game, is hearing the not-so-quiet rumblings about this year’s rookie team being more talented than the sophomores. But the reigning Rookie of the Year knows the sophomores have won six straight games, and he isn’t about to let the streak end on his watch. Durant just hasn’t jumped into the trash talk between Green and Westbrook. "I don’t talk trash,” Durant said. "I just go out there and have fun. But of course we’re going to go back and forth about it. I can’t wait to play.” Westbrook said he doesn’t think he’ll be a starter in the game because of higher profile guards Rose and Mayo, the No. 1 and No. 3 overall picks, respectively. And even when he gets into the game, Westbrook doesn’t figure he’ll match up with Green or Durant. But Brooks has his money on his rookie anyway. "I have a feeling if anybody’s dunking on anybody it’s going to be Russell dunking on somebody,” Brooks said.
Thunder at Trail Blazers
→When: 9 tonight →Where: Rose Garden, Portland, Ore. →TV: Fox Sports Oklahoma (Cox 37) →Radio: WWLS-FM 98.1, WWLS-AM 640 →Live blog: http://blog.newsok.com/nbainokc Three things to know
→Oklahoma City defeated Portland 102-93 on Feb. 6 inside the Ford Center. →The Thunder is 3-6 against Northwest Divisional opponents. →Portland guard Brandon Roy averages 24.2 points and 5.9 assists at home against 20.9 points and 4.5 assists on the road. Projected starters