Derek Fisher is all business, which is something you'd expect from a 16-year pro who is president of the National Basketball Players Association.
When approached before Tuesday night's game at Portland for an interview about his return to Los Angeles, Fisher politely sidestepped answering any questions about the Lakers until after the game against the Trail Blazers.
“The thing that really impresses me is he comes in and does his work,” OKC coach Scott Brooks said. “He's really professional. He's thorough. He's diligent in his work. He's always early. He gets his time in before and after practice. He's not just sitting down and grabbing guys (to come) over. You can't do that. There's always a grace period, a comfort level that guys need and that he needs with guys.”
Brooks said Fisher has been very subtle in sharing his thoughts.
“He's talked to the group at times,” Brooks said. “He's not a big talker, but what he says is very important. Those are words our guys need to hear and they need to continue to hear. He's not like grabbing guys left and right (and saying), 'Come on and listen to this story I'm about to tell you.' He's a class act. We appreciate having him around.”
Kobe Bryant said Fisher's return to Staples Center for Thursday night's contest will create an “extremely weird” sight after the two were teammates for nearly 13 seasons.
“It's going to be strange, him going down to the visitors' locker room,” Bryant told the Los Angeles Times. “But I talk to him pretty much every single day, though, still. So in terms of our personal relationship, there really hasn't been any separation in that sense. But seeing him coming into Staples Center in a different uniform is going to be extremely, extremely weird for us all.”
Individual tickets remain for the Devon Energy KD35 Ball, an inaugural fundraiser on Saturday at the Skirvin Hotel benefiting the newly formed Kevin Durant Family Foundation.
Guided by Kevin and his mother, Wanda Pratt, the foundation's vision is to “play forward” Durant's priorities of helping children and families succeed.
The KD35 Ball will feature a dinner, a dance and entertainment by Grammy award-winning violinist Miri Ben-Ari.
Silent and live auctions will be held. Live auction items include a Garth Brooks guitar, dinner with James Harden, artwork by Desmond Mason, a “play date” with Serge Ibaka, dinner with Kevin and Wanda, and an all-inclusive trip to the 2013 NBA All-Star Game in Houston.
A limited number of individual tickets priced at $500 each and tables starting at $4,500 are still available. For more information call (405) 418-3870 or visit KD35Ball.com.
Durant was discussing the current standings and the importance of OKC worrying only about one game at a time when he was reminded just 16 games remained in the 66-game regular season.
“That's crazy,” said a smiling Durant. “It's felt weird all season. It's late March and we're only 50 games in. Normally we'll have played 50 games in the middle of February.”
Thunder reserves Nick Collison, Nazr Mohammed and Royal Ivey are scheduled to visit Westwood Elementary, 1701 Exchange Ave., on Friday at 2 p.m.
They will welcome 75 first-graders aboard the Rolling Thunder Book Bus, presented by American Fidelity Assurance Company. Each student will be able to pick out a free book to take home.
OKC won three of four against Portland for the second straight season. … The Thunder is now 16-8 on the road and 9-2 in the Northwest Division, which it leads by 11 games over Denver and Utah. OKC could wrap up its second straight division title by early next week. … Portland starting guard Raymond Felton missed Tuesday's game to attend to a family matter in South Carolina.
After Thursday night's game at the Lakers, the Thunder returns home to face Chicago at noon Sunday. That is followed by a 7 p.m. game Monday at home against Memphis, followed by games at Miami on Wednesday and at Indiana on Friday.
Fisher on being unbeaten (4-0) since joining the Thunder last week: “We're playing well and it's very apparent that these guys are hungry, they're playing with a passion and enjoy playing the game together. Like I've said before, I just want to add anything I can add to what I thought was a special situation already before I got here.”
Portland point guard Jonny Flynn after playing a season-high 25 minutes against the Thunder: “Top to bottom, they are so good. … They have every facet of the game that you need. They showed us that when you make mistakes on defense, they can really hurt you.”