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Nazr Mohammed to start his OKC Thunder debut vs. Indiana Pacers

The Thunder acquired Nazr Mohammed last week in a trade with Charlotte. The former Kentucky center will start Wednesday night against Indiana at the Oklahoma City Arena.
BY JOHN ROHDE, Staff Writer, jrohde@opubco.com Modified: March 2, 2011 at 1:25 pm •  Published: March 1, 2011
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photo - Oklahoma City's Nazr Mohammed talks to the media at the Thunder practice facility, Saturday, Feb, 26, 2011, in Oklahoma City. Photo by Sarah Phipps, The Oklahoman
Oklahoma City's Nazr Mohammed talks to the media at the Thunder practice facility, Saturday, Feb, 26, 2011, in Oklahoma City. Photo by Sarah Phipps, The Oklahoman

Newly acquired center Nazr Mohammed will start for the Thunder against Indiana at 7 p.m. Wednesday inside Oklahoma City Arena.

"Right now, I'm even-keeled about it," Mohammed said after Wednesday morning's shootaround. "I'll probably get a little nervous right before. I always get nervous right before big games, but it's a good nervousness. If I'm too cool or too relaxed before a game, I don't really like that. Tonight being a big game for me, I'll probably get a little nervous."

Thunder coach Scott Brooks said he decided to start Mohammed ahead of Nick Collison after thinking about the move Tuesday night and talking with Mohammed this morning.

"He's been solid at practice and has a maturity level I like," Brooks said of the 33-year-old Mohammed, who came in a trade last week with Charlotte in exchange for Morris Peterson and D.J. White.

The Thunder becomes the seventh different NBA team for which Mohammed has started. Mohammed said his toughest challenge will be remembering the proper names for plays.

"I've had a lot of playbooks," Mohammed said with a smile. "Sometimes you hear a call that's the same name, but it's a totally different play. That's the hard part about playing with so many teams. You might hear 'floppy.' I've had three different teams run three different 'floppys.' "

Brooks deadpanned, "I'm sure I'm going to call something and (Mohammed) is going to run something else that's going to be correct for (Charlotte coach) Larry Brown's play calls. Russell (Westbrook) is going to orchestrate where he needs to be if he's not in the right spot."

The Pacers (27-32) won 109-100 at home last night against Golden State, while the Thunder (36-22) is riding its first three-game losing streak of the season.

"I'm not expecting too many (minutes) because I'm part of a rotation," Mohammed said. "I think I'm going to do well. I think I'll be able to pick it up quickly. There's still a comfort level that has to grow."


Pacers at Thunder

When: 7 p.m. Wednesday

Where: Oklahoma City Arena (18,203)

TV: FS Oklahoma (Cox 37, HD Ch. 722)

Radio: WWLS 98.1-FM, WWLS 640-AM

 THREE THINGS TO KNOW

* Pacers starting forward Mike Dunleavy, the team's fourth-leading scorer and fifth-leading rebounder, is out with a thumb injury and could miss the rest of the season.

* The Thunder beat the Pacers 110-106 in overtime in the season's previous meeting at Conseco Fieldhouse on Nov. 26. Russell Westbrook had a career-high 43 points.

* This is the second of a back-to-back for Indiana, which hosted Golden State on Tuesday. Pacers are battling Charlotte for the Eastern Conference's No. 8 playoff spot.

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