TULSA — The hometown kid stepped to the free-throw line with 11.4 seconds left and a chance to ice the game. Swish two freebies, and the accomplished author would walk out of the BOK Center as the star of a fairytale that not even he was imaginative to pen. But Etan Thomas would indeed have his storybook ending. The former Booker T. Washington High star sank a pair of free throws that secured a 96-91 preseason win over Miami on Wednesday night. It was the perfect finish to a special night for Thomas, who as a youngster worked at American Parking, just blocks from where the arena had yet to be built. "I’m just glad I made them,” said Thomas, who hadn’t played a game in Tulsa since high school and needed more than 100 tickets for the exhibition. "I’m glad we got the win. I would have been feeling bad if I would have missed them.” Thomas might have a reason to feel even better. No one would go into details following the game, but Thomas could be closer to competing for the starting center job than anyone thinks. Returning starter Nenad Krstic has been penciled in by many to regain his place in the first unit. But it’s important to keep in mind that Krstic is more offensive-minded, and fellow starters Russell Westbrook, Kevin Durant and Jeff Green provide plenty of firepower. With the more defensive-oriented Thomas, Thunder coach Scott Brooks might balance out his starting lineup with more toughness and interior defense. Inserting Thomas into the starting unit, even if he didn’t play more than 20 minutes, could also make the Thunder’s bench more dangerous with Krstic, Nick Collison, Shaun Livingston and rookie James Harden forming a formidable foursome. "I like them both,” Brooks said of his centers. "They complement each other very well...It’s very competitive and I like that. Both guys are working extremely hard. Both guys are helping us win the way they help.” Thomas finished with 11 points on 4-for-4 shooting. He added two rebounds, a blocked shot and a steal in 23 minutes. He showed he can bring more than defense when he dunked a dump-off pass from Kevin Durant 35 seconds into the first quarter and swished a 14-footer midway through the frame. Thomas said he’s still trying to find his rhythm with his new teammates. Westbrook, for example, prefers Thomas to back away on drives to clear more space. Durant, on the other hand, likes for Thomas to cut hard and quick after he sets a screen. "It doesn’t happen overnight, but just getting a rhythm with everybody takes time,” Thomas said. "But I like where it’s going.” The Thunder showed it has learned a few lessons as a collective unit. Oklahoma City, playing its starters for the first time down the stretch this preseason, outscored Miami 15-7 over the final 4 1/2 minutes. Heat star Dwyane Wade did not play Wednesday, but the Thunder’s defensive approach late was impressive nonetheless. Durant finished with a game-high 30 points.