Rough start for replacement refsThe Thunder’s first taste of replacement referees got off to a rocky start. Midway through the first quarter, the officiating trio had whistled the Thunder for eight fouls and the Grizzlies for only one. By the end of the first period, the margin was 11-4. When it was all over, the Grizzlies attempted 47 free throws to the Thunder’s 28. "They did their best,” Oklahoma City’s Kevin Durant said. "I think they tried to make every call. They talked to us and made us feel like we had some input and weren’t scared to talk to us. I think they did a good job and called some good calls. But nobody’s perfect.” The Thunder did benefit from what appeared to be two bad calls. The first when the ball looked to have touched Etan Thomas last before rolling out of bounds. The second when Memphis point guard Marcus Williams was called for a foul, although it was clear Shaun Livingston initiated the contact with a forearm to Williams’ chest as Livingston brought the ball up near midcourt.
BROOKS TO SWITCH LINEUPSThunder coach Scott Brooks opened the seven-game preseason schedule with a starting lineup of Russell Westbrook, James Harden, Kevin Durant, Jeff Green and Nenad Krstic. But Brooks said that lineup is likely to change for Saturday’s game at New Orleans and added his rotation is in flux as well. "I just want to give other guys looks and see how they do in game situations,” Brooks said. "I like to give guys a fair look. In certain situations they might only get a few minutes. But I think you need to give guys six- to seven-minute clips to really let them get a good feel for the game and get a good feel for how they play and mesh with our guys.” Brooks said he would like to keep the starter’s minutes in the low-to-mid 20-minute range and limit Krstic to a little less as he recuperates from a long summer.
HARDEN SHOWS VERSATILITYHarden had 12 points, four rebounds, three assists and two steals in his debut. "I did all right,” Harden said. "I could have done some things better, but overall I think I did some pretty good things out there as far as helping my teammates out on the defensive end. But I’ve still got a long way to go and a lot of work to do.”
CLOSER TO CAPTAINSBrooks has spoken to Durant and Green about serving as the team’s two captains this season. "I’m leaning toward making the decision soon,” Brooks said. "I just want to make sure that whoever I choose, they understand that role. I take it serious. I’ve been around some great captains, and I’ve been around some not-so-great captains. That role is important. You are the coach of the team when the coach is not around. So I take pride in naming that position.” Said Durant: "It means a lot. I’ve got to set the tone each and every day. I’m still working on it. Me and Jeff have a long way to go as far as being perfect leaders. But that’s what we’re striving toward, and I think our teammates do a great job of listening and making us feel like we’re captains.”
BRIEFLYThabo Sefolosha did not travel with the team to Memphis after sustaining a mild concussion in Monday’s practice. He could return to the lineup Saturday. ... Nick Collison (sprained right ankle) and Kevin Ollie did not play. ... Memphis guard Allen Iverson did not play with a left hamstring injury and will miss three weeks.
Rough start for replacement refs