KENDRICK PERKINS EXCUSED FROM THUNDER AFTER HIS GRANDFATHER'S DEATH
Thunder starting center Kendrick Perkins did not travel with the team on its three-game road trip so that he could be with his family following the death of his grandfather.
Perkins missed Wednesday's game against the Los Angeles Clippers and will miss Thursday's game at Golden State. He could rejoin the team for Saturday's game at Milwaukee.
“Our thoughts and prayers are with Perk and his family as they go through this time,” said Thunder coach Scott Brooks. “But whether he needs more time, we don't know yet. It's just the next couple of games.”
Steven Adams started in place of Perkins on Wednesday.
“I'm comfortable with him getting out there playing with the starting lineup,” Brooks said. “He's been with that lineup a few times during games and sometimes in practice. But no matter who we have out there, guys have confidence in executing what we work on every day. I think it's going to be a great opportunity for him.”
Adams, who had averaged 1.7 minutes more than Perkins through the first six games, said his goal while in the first string is to keep things simple.
“Nothing is going to change,” Adams said. “It's just now it's kind of like going out there and setting the tone; being with the starting five and making sure we set the bar.”
WESTBROOK CELEBRATES AT HOME
Russell Westbrook celebrated his 25th birthday in his hometown of Los Angeles on Tuesday night, a rare opportunity due to the cross-country travel that comes with playing an NBA season.
And because the team moved its shootaround from its customary location at an area high school, Westbrook also got to go through a team practice Wednesday morning on the campus of his alma mater, UCLA.
“It's always good to come back to UCLA,” Westbrook said. “I was here a lot in the summertime. But it's great weather and a great campus.”
Despite being back home, Westbrook said he tried to keep his focus on the game.
“It's always great to be able to be back home for your birthday and enjoy the family time,” Westbrook said. “But I also know that it's a business trip, and this is my job and this is what I do.”
Thunder forward Nick Collison returned to the lineup after a one-game absence due to a hip contusion.
While icing the right side of his waist Wednesday, Collison said the injury is nothing serious.
“It's better,” Collison said. “A little sore, but it's a contusion so I'm not too worried about doing any damage. It's more just pain and making sure I'm not moving differently because of it.”
Collison said he sustained the injury late in the Thunder's game at Detroit last Friday, when he collided with Pistons forward Greg Monroe.
WRAPPED UP WITH WIGGINS
Collison caught his first glimpse of Kansas freshman phenom Andrew Wiggins on Tuesday night in the Jayhawks' win over Duke.
“I think he's going to be really good,” Collison said of Wiggins, the projected No. 1 overall pick in next year's draft. “I just hope people leave him alone a little bit and just let him be who he is. It seems like there's a lot of expectations for him, which would be tough. But he seems to be handling it. He played well.
“And Bill Self is really good. He'll do a good job with that team. That's a good place for him to go. He's going to learn a lot playing there.”
Collison, who starred at Kansas from 1999-2003, said he was just as impressed with the rest of the Jayhawks.
“My first impressions of their team is they've got a lot of talent. They're loaded,” Collison said. “A lot of the other guys looked really good too.”
BY DARNELL MAYBERRY