After missing three games with a quad contusion, forward Nick Collison will return to the lineup Wednesday against Philadelphia.
Collison practiced Tuesday afternoon and said he felt much better and doesn't anticipate the injury being a problem anymore. Collison also said he was sidelined as much for precautionary reasons as he was because of the injury itself.
“It was a quad contusion, but it was in a bad place. It was right by my knee, right where the quad and knee come together,” Collison said. “So I had a lot of swelling. That's a really important muscle to keep your knee stable. So we want to make sure that that muscle is firing correctly because I don't want to put my knee at risk.
“I had knee issues the last couple of years, and it was right near where I had my stress reaction last year. I wanted to really give it time, and luckily we went into the All-Star break to give me some extra days.”
Thunder coach Scott Brooks said he will play Collison his customary amount of minutes, which generally is in the low- to mid-20s.
“It's great having him back, because he does so many little things for us to help us win games,” Brooks said. “The screens that he sets, the rebounds, the defense, the charges, the passing, him and James' chemistry, he's such a good player that he understands his role and he wants to always improve that role. The team is excited to have him back because he's a big part of our success.”
TALKIN' ‘BOUT PRACTICE
Following a three-day break for All-Star Weekend, the Thunder reconvened in Philadelphia and had a late afternoon practice on Tuesday. It was a short session but sounded spirited as several voices boomed beyond the walls of the Sixers practice facility.
The team's goals in the second half of the season remain the same.
“We had a good weekend off, and guys came back in good spirits,” Brooks said. “The focus now is to get back into the second part of the season and keep getting better and keep working on the things we set out to do at the start of the season, which is defending much better and passing the ball much better. Now we have to throw in taking care of the basketball.”
Collison said he doubts the layoff was long enough to destroy the momentum the Thunder had built. Before the break, the Thunder had won five straight games, nine of its last 11 and 11 of its past 14.
“We'll be fine,” Collison said. “Once we get to the arena, we'll get right back into doing what we were doing before.
“We're more concerned with the guys, Kevin (Durant) and Russell (Westbrook), who were busy over the break and that they're not fatigued. But they don't seem like it. And those guys are still young. It seems like they never get tired, so I think we'll be good.”
TOUGH THREE-GAME STRETCH