OKC Thunder: Guard Thabo Sefolosha out vs. Dallas Mavericks

Oklahoma City Thunder guard Thabo Sefolosha will miss his second straight game with a sore right foot. James Harden started in Sefolosha's place Monday vs. the Los Angeles Clippers, but Thunder coach Scott Brooks said he has not decided who will start Wednesday night.
BY DARNELL MAYBERRY, Staff Writer, dmayberry@opubco.com Modified: February 1, 2012 at 1:24 pm •  Published: February 1, 2012

DALLAS — Thabo Sefolosha will miss his second straight game with a sore right foot, Thunder coach Scott Brooks said at his team's morning shoot-around Wednesday.

James Harden started in place of Sefolosha on Monday against the Los Angeles Clippers, but Brooks said he had not decided who will start at shooting guard for Wednesday's game against Dallas.

Harden, who has excelled as the team's sixth man, struggled in a secondary role starting alongside All-Stars Kevin Durant and Russell Westbrook in a 112-100 loss to the Clippers.

Although Brooks did not say that Harden struggles stemmed solely from being in the starting lineup, the coach did admit that he has concerns about tampering with Harden's role as it possibly could continue to throw off the team's chemistry. Brooks said it's a situation that the coaching staff is “looking at very closely.”

“Definitely, we've talked about it,” Brooks said. “We're trying to work through it. I don't know what we'll do tonight. But there's definitely concern because that second unit's been really good. It's been changed a few times even with Eric (Maynor) being out.”

The most likely candidate to start if Brooks decides to bring Harden off the bench is Daequan Cook, the 3-point specialist who is averaging 4.9 points on 39.4 percent shooting from beyond the arc in 15.4 minutes per game. Cook, however, is not considered a strong defender and he could have his hands full with Mavs guard Vince Carter.

Another option, albeit a long shot, is Lazar Hayward. It seems unlikely Brooks would opt to start Hayward considering he's only played 51 minutes all season over nine games, with most of that action coming in garbage time. Hayward, though, is a tougher defender than Cook and could supply solid offensive contributions, including adequate perimeter shooting.

But perhaps the most significant question regarding Harden is not whether he starts or comes off the bench, but how will he perform in the final game of this three-game road trip?