No longer will playing minutes be restricted for Thunder starting guard Thabo Sefolosha.
The OKC medical staff told coach Scott Brooks he could lift Sefolosha's 20-minute maximum prior to Tuesday night's game against the Portland Trail Blazers at the Rose Garden.
“He's feeling good, we just have to keep him going,” Brooks said. “He's a big part of what we do. I think he's been great since he's been back and it's really a credit to our (medical) staff for allowing him to continue to stay in great shape without running. I don't know how they do it, but they do it. He came in that first game back (March 15) and acted like he's never missed too many games.”
DURANT ON KIMMEL
Two-time scoring champ Kevin Durant will make an appearance on Jimmy Kimmel Live! on Wednesday night. The show tapes at 6:30 p.m. and airs at 11 p.m. on KOCO-5 (ABC).
This will be Durant's first stop on the major talk-show circuit.
“It's new for me,” Durant said. “It should be fun. I'm excited.”
Asked if he was nervous about his talk-show debut, Durant smiled and said, “Nah, we're just talkin'.”
Thunder reserve guard Daequan Cook shot baskets for the first time since injuring his right knee at Utah on March 20.
Cook shot some 3-pointers while wearing a cumbersome knee brace.
Brooks went with his usual comment on injured players and said Cook was “day-to-day,” before admitting Cook wasn't nearly that close to returning. Brooks joked he was more like “two days-to-two days.”
Cook is likely 7-10 days away from returning.
Duke rookie Nolan Smith earned his first pro start Tuesday night. He is the son of the late Derek Smith, a former NBA player who died of an apparent massive heart attack in 1996 at age 34.
Derek and Brooks were teammates in Philadelphia during Brooks' first two seasons in the league. The entire Smith family actually was in Brooks' wedding, with Nolan serving as ring bearer.
Brooks smiled when he learned Nolan was starting.
“I've known him all his life,” Brooks said of Nolan. “During my rookie year (in 1988, when Nolan was born) … he was still in diapers. He was a feisty little guy. I'm happy for all his success. I followed him through high school. I followed him through Duke and I'm following him every game here. I'm glad he's getting an opportunity.”
In the first half Sunday night against Miami, the Thunder shot 66.7 percent from the field. In the first half Tuesday against the Blazers, OKC shot 65.9 percent. … The Thunder (.797) and Portland (.792) entered the game as the league's top free-throw shooting teams. … Starting forward and part-time model Serga Ibaka will appear at a fashion show at Gaillardia Country Club on Friday to benefit Allied Arts.
The Thunder will have Wednesday off and plays at the Los Angeles Lakers on Thursday at 9:30 p.m. on TNT. OKC will then take Friday off before preparing for its Sunday noon contest at home against the Chicago Bulls.
Thunder reserve center Cole Aldrich on how Kansas will do in its national semifinal against Ohio State, where Cook played: “I think we're going to hurt them again.” KU beat OSU 78-67 earlier in the season in Lawrence, but the Buckeyes were without All-American Jared Sullinger.