James Harden, Nick Collison Out Tonight
The inside of the Thunder’s locker room an hour before Monday’s game against New Orleans looked like a battlefield.
Eric Maynor’s right leg was attached to some rehabilitation machine.
James Harden’s left ankle was fixed to simulated ice.
Nick Collison and Lazar Hayward weren’t even in the building.
This is what it’s come to for the Thunder, a team that has finally caught the injury bug in this shortened season of attrition.
Harden (ankle) and Collison (quad contusion) will each miss their first games of the season with ailments. Kendrick Perkins, who returned from a one-game absence caused by a knee injury, sustained a minor foot injury Sunday but is a go. Hayward will miss at least a week after sustaining an orbital floor fracture Friday.
“We have enough,” insisted no-excuses Thunder coach Scott Brooks.
“When you play an NBA season, you’re going to be banged up. You don’t want to play when you’re injured, but you have to play when you’re sore.”
The injuries, though, come at a time where the Thunder must also muster the strength to get over Sunday’s emotionally-draining overtime thriller over Denver. Oklahoma City outlasted the Nuggets 124-118 in an historic performance by Kevin Durant (career and NBA-season high) 51 points, Russell Westbrook (40 points) and Serge Ibaka (14 points, 15 rebounds and 11 blocked shots). They became the first trio in NBA history to finish with at least 40 points, 50 points and a triple -double.
Now, the Western-Conference worst Hornets come to town for the second game in as many nights for the Thunder. And even though New Orleans has been the face of this season’s rash of injuries, the Hornets are coming in hot, having won three straight, making this one appear to be the perfect trap game.
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