Thunder coach Scott Brooks said it will be an in-game decision how he rotates his "bigs.” Veteran Joe Smith did not play in Tuesday’s loss because Nick Collison and Chris Wilcox played well off the bench. Jeff Green starts at power forward. Center Johan Petro has started the past three games. "It’s hard to play five guys at two positions,” Brooks said. "We’ll adjust during the game. They all have to be ready. Whether it’s five minutes or 30 minutes, they have to play (those minutes) hard.”
SCOUTING TORONTOThe Raptors are 2-8 their last 10 games after an 8-7 start. Toronto, though, has the same nucleus that’s made the playoffs the last two seasons. Forward Chris Bosh was on the Olympic team. Jermaine O’Neal is a veteran 6-foot-11 center who is a load inside. Jose Calderon is third in the league in assists (9.0) and is a deadly 3-point shooter. "The challenge is to stop (Bosh and O’Neal) from getting easy buckets,” Brooks said. "Their point guard is really good. And they have some shooters. They haven’t played particularly well as of late, but that’s a very talented team. We’ll have to step up and play an entire game because that’s a team that can really score. And they get stops.”
LIMITED TICKETSTonight’s game and Sunday’s game with Cleveland are sellouts. Fans wanting to attend either game are advised to show up early. The final 200 tickets for tonight’s game go on sale at 6 p.m. Team officials also will sell 75 pairs of tickets (150 total) on game day both tonight and Sunday. Another 25 pairs (50 tickets) will be given away in a drawing.
DEFENSIVE CHALLENGEAfter moving to power forward when Brooks was named interim coach, Green will be guarding Bosh, who he faced last summer in Las Vegas when Green and Kevin Durant were on a practice team that prepared Team USA for the Olympics. "It’s fun to play against guys who are All-Star caliber,” Green said. "It brings out the best in you. I’m going to make him work (to get good shots). But it’s going to be a tough challenge. He’s one of the top players in the league.”
BRIEFLYBrooks said Thursday’s practice was good. Areas of emphasis were post-up defense and pick-and-roll defense. ... Wilcox left at the end of practice when his dislocated ring finger was hit during a scrimmage session, but he’s expected to play tonight. ... Rookie point guard Russell Westbrook left practice early for a doctor’s appointment. ... Center Robert Swift (back spasms and sprained ankle) won’t play tonight. Swift did not practice but shot free throws after practice. BY MIKE BALDWIN