As the NBA playoffs near, the Thunder is beginning to get healthy.
On Thursday against the Spurs, Kendrick Perkins returned from a 17-game absence, playing 11 minutes in OKC’s 106-94 win at Chesapeake Energy Arena.
Reggie Jackson was also back, scoring 14 points in 30 minutes after a two-game absence because of a mid-back sprain.
But Perkins is the one to monitor moving forward. Before the game, Oklahoma City coach Scott Brooks said Perkins would initially be limited to around 10-12 minutes per game and be rested during one game of each back-to-back.
“It’s going to take a while for him to get his legs under him, but we’re excited to have him,” Brooks said.
Perkins and Russell Westbrook will sit against the Rockets on Friday in Houston.
And Thabo Sefolosha, according to Brooks, is still a little bit away from his return from a calf strain.
“He went through a few things in our practice yesterday,” Brooks said. “Soon, we will have everybody back heading into the playoffs.”
As Kevin Durant prepared to field questions from the media at Thursday morning’s shootaround, Caron Butler, Jeremy Lamb and Hasheem Thabeet strolled behind the gathering with wide grins followed by a loud chant.
“U-C-O-N-N,” the trio shouted, a purposefully obnoxious ode to their former college that is currently in the Final Four.
A Durant eyeroll immediately followed, hinting at an annoyance that has been the UConn trash talk that’s been filling the Thunder locker room of late.
“I wish I could say, ‘yeah,’” Durant said when asked if he was rooting against the Huskies this weekend to spite the vocal trio. “But I’m a big Kevin Ollie fan, so I can’t do that.
“(But) I will say this, before Caron Butler got here, J-Lamb and Hasheem Thabeet didn’t say a word about UConn. Now that they talking and screaming and chanting, I know it’s all BS.”
DURANT AIDS JACKSON RECRUITMENT
As a die-hard Washington Redskins fan, Durant was involved in the recent recruitment process for wide receiver Desean Jackson.
Jackson, who agreed to a three-year deal with Washington, told reporters that Durant even reached out through some phone calls. Durant denied ever talking directly to Jackson, but did say he made sure his opinion reached him.
“I didn’t make no calls,” Durant said. “I knew some people that knew some people, say what I had to say and somehow it got back to D-Jack and the rest is history. It looks good on paper, but you still have to play the game. We’ll see what happens.”
•Durant on the idea that San Antonio coach Gregg Popovich might rest his stars against the Thunder: “I tried to think what Pop was going to do last night and had a brain freeze. You can’t predict what that guy’s gonna do.”
•Durant on the Spurs’ steady play: “They got a system and they do the same thing no matter who is on the court. Popovich could start and point guard and I’m sure he’d find a way to get 10 assists.”
STAT OF THE NIGHT
Durant’s streak of 25-plus point games hit 39 on Thursday. He can tie Michael Jordan on Friday at Houston.
The Thunder faces the Rockets in Houston on Friday night. Tip is at 8:30 Oklahoma time on ESPN.