SERGE SURGINGSerge Ibaka, who grabbed a career high 14 rebounds against the Lakers on Tuesday night, has been getting minutes in crunch time. Brooks, though, said he likes his current rotation and has no plans to change the starting lineup. The past three games, heading into Wednesday’s matchup with the Suns, Ibaka was averaging 10.0 points, 9.0 rebounds and 1.3 blocks in 24.7 minutes. "He’s long and athletic. He’s smart, too,” said Nick Collison. "He has a good feel where to provide help and still get back to his man. He’s going to be a real good defender the more he plays. "He’s combining a lot of good things with his length and talent. Sometimes young guys don’t know what they’re doing. But he’s really starting to understand the game.”
DURANT FOULS OUTKevin Durant scored 30 points against the Lakers on Tuesday night but fouled out with 1:31 left. He said it’s the first time he’s fouled out on any level — junior high, high school, his one year at Texas or three years in the NBA. "It’s impossible to guard guys (like Kobe Bryant and Carmelo Anthony) and say, ‘I’m not going to foul them,’” Durant said. "They’re so tough and have so many moves. I just have to play hard and trust my teammates even more they’ll help me on the backside.”
SO CLOSE — YET SO FARIn a Hollywood sequel, a Christmas-week matchup with the Lakers at the Staples Center was vastly different than a lopsided loss Thanksgiving week. The Thunder lost 111-108 Tuesday night, but the Lakers’ 11th consecutive home win wasn’t secure until Russell Westbrook missed a 3-pointer in the waning seconds. "This game shows we have a lot of heart and we’re growing,” said James Harden. "We’re getting better. Our goal is to just continue to grow as a team.” OKC led by as many as 12 points in the first half and was up 61-54 at halftime. Even when the Lakers made a strong second-half run to build an 11-point lead the Thunder battled back to keep the sellout crowd in its seats until the final buzzer. "We’re getting better,” Durant said. "I know we don’t like to take moral victories. But tonight we showed a lot of toughness, a lot of maturity. It was a tough loss. But we were right there at the end and could have won the game.”
FAST BREAKThe Thunder will practice today but will be given Christmas Day off... Suns forward Leandro Barbosa is expected to return Christmas Day from a severely sprained ankle. Phoenix has gone 4-7 with Barbosa sidelined. ... Former OU forward Taylor Griffin was inactive for Wednesday’s game. Griffin has rejoined the team after playing two games in the D-League. Griffin has appeared in only two games with the Suns.