Coach Scott Brooks doesn’t like flip-flopping starting lineups. But since Etan Thomas is playing well, and Nenad Krstic is in a slump, would Brooks consider starting Thomas at center? The switch also would give the Thunder an added offensive weapon (Krstic) off the bench "It’s always fluid,” Brooks said. "It’s a gut feel. Right now I like Nenad in the starting lineup. But nothing is permanent. They both bring something to our team that we need. "Nenad didn’t play particularly well (at Houston) but he gave us great energy in the third quarter when we made a good run (Tuesday against the Lakers)... The bottom line is we need both of them to play well.”
SCOUTING ORLANDOVince Carter (sprained ankle) won’t play tonight but the defending Eastern Conference champions, led by Dwight Howard, are off to a good start. The Thunder, riding a three-game losing streak, is coming off its worst defensive outing. "They’re one of the best teams in the league even with (Carter) out,” Brooks said. "They’re loaded. They’re deep. They’re a talented team. Howard can impact a game and not score. He can get 20 rebounds and 10 blocks. They move the ball. They’re about as good a team as we’ll face.”
ADELMAN ON DURANTHouston coach Rick Adelman is among the growing list of coaches who rave about Kevin Durant. "I like the way he matured from his rookie season to last year,” Adelman said. "He really got better. You could really see a big difference. He has all the ability in the world. I’ve been very, very impressed. To me, he seems to be getting taller.” Durant denies growing, but Adelman said Durant’s height makes him a difficult matchup. "He’s a unique player in that he moves so well,” Adelman said. "He shoots it so quick coming off picks. When you have the ability to shoot it that quick, it’s impressive. It’s kind of like Tracy (McGrady) with us before he got hurt. He could get a shot off almost any time he wanted to.”
SEFOLOSHA’S REPUTATION GROWINGKobe Bryant said last week Thabo Sefolosha isn’t one of the league’s elite defenders, yet, but is getting closer. Bryant complimented Sefolosha, saying he always plays hard, even in Chicago, stressing "it’s just a matter of time” before Sefolosha ranks among the top defenders. "That’s a great compliment coming from a guy like him,” Sefolosha said. "Regardless of who you’re guarding, each game I just try to come out and play hard and make it difficult for them to get good shots.”
FAST BREAK...Brooks said Nick Collison, hampered the past month by an ankle injury, still isn’t 100 percent but is getting close.
PAPER: IVERSON LEAVES GRIZZLIESGuard Allen Iverson has asked for and was granted permission to leave the Memphis Grizzlies to deal with a personal matter, the Memphis Commercial Appeal reported Saturday. Iverson has played in three games for the Grizzlies, averaging 22 minutes, 12.3 points, 3.7 assists and 2.3 turnovers off the bench. It is unknown whether Iverson, who had expressed his displeasure with a bench role, will rejoin the team.
No lineup change