TULSA — Jeff Green will not play tonight after spraining his left ankle Saturday against Golden State. The starting lineups look like this
Thunder Pos. Rockets
Earl Watson PG Rafer Alston
Kevin Durant SG Von Wafer
Desmond Mason SF Ron Artest
Chuck Hayes PF Chris Wilcox
Johan Petro C Yao Ming
Coach P.J. Carlesimo said Mason insisted on playing tonight. He sustained a left knee contusion on Friday against Sacramento and sat out Saturday at Golden State.
Joe Smith is out as I previously reported. He still hasn’t gotten his fractured nose popped back into place. He’s scheduled to see the doctor tomorrow and he’ll soon be fitted for the protective mask he’ll be wearing for the next few weeks.
The Rockets have brought their game operations staff with them to Tulsa, so the PA announcer is the Rockets’ man. He’ll have the task of trying to energize a crowd that is predominately in favor of the Thunder. He introduced the Rockets as “Your Houston Rockets.” If this type of thing continues all night it could be a long night for that poor guy.
BOK Center officials said ticket sales about two hours before tipoff were at about 10,000. The arena holds about 19,000 so the crowd should be decent. I expect more tomorrow night inside the Ford Center.
Keep an eye on the matchup between Russell Westbrook and Aaron Brooks. Westbrook has the height advantage, but Brooks is a speed demon who can put pressure on anybody.
Another matchup to watch will whoever the Rockets throw at Kevin Durant. It looks like it’ll start off being Von Wafer. Durant obviously holds the advantage in that one. But the Rockets can throw waves of defenders at him in Ron Artest and Shane Battier. Let’s see how Kevin responds.