The Thunder set another arena record, drawing a sellout crowd of 15,004 at Intrust Bank Arena in Wichita, Kan., for its 88-76 victory against the Dallas Mavericks on Wednesday night. The facility opened in January 2010.
That record figures to be threatened Saturday night when country singer Carrie Underwood performs at Intrust. Underwood, who was raised in Checotah, is performing at Chesapeake Energy Arena on Thursday night.
When OKC played the Phoenix Suns last Friday night, an arena record crowd of 18,233 was in attendance at the BOK Center in Tulsa.
“It's unbelievable,” Thunder coach Scott Brooks said of the regional fan support. “The building is beautiful. There aren't many non-NBA arenas as nice as this building (Intrust).”
After getting booed in Tulsa for not inserting an injured James Harden (groin) into the game, Brooks appeased the sellout crowd early by inserting former Jayhawks Nick Collison and Cole Aldrich.
Collison was first off the bench (5:52 left in the first quarter), played 20 minutes and had six points, two rebounds, one block and one assist.
Aldrich was the third substitution (2:37 in the first quarter), played 14 1/2 minutes, had three rebounds and two blocks, but did not score.
Collison and Aldrich played collegiately 165 miles away in Lawrence and were the most popular interview requests all night.
The Thunder will dedicate the newly refurbished Pitts Park Community Center outdoor basketball court in northeast Oklahoma City on Friday. The project is a partnership between the Sprite Spark Parks Project and the Thunder Cares Foundation, benefiting the City of Oklahoma City Parks and Recreation Department.
As part of the $21,000 renovation, the center now has a Thunder blue court with Thunder and NBA logos, plus new backboards, goals, benches and other improvements. Several Thunder players will join children from the Pitts Park neighborhood on Friday to dedicate the new court.
Brooks said he was pleased with his team's rebounds (51) and assists (26), but was not pleased with poor spacing on offense that led to 18 turnovers. … The Mavericks had only 11 available players and were without Dirk Nowitzki, who had knee surgery last Friday. Nowitzki's exact return date is unknown, but he has said he'll be ready two weeks after he is cleared to return to on-court workouts. Nowitzki has been selected to the last 11 All-Star Games. … Intrust Bank Arena is home to a Central Hockey League team coincidentally also named the Thunder. … The Mavs have an all-rookie candidate in forward Jae Crowder, who finished with a game-high 21 points and nine rebounds. … Last season, OKC sold out every game at Chesapeake Energy Arena during the regular season and playoffs. This season, there is a waiting list for 3,500 seats.
Thunder power forward Serge Ibaka after learning how long it would take the team plane to fly from Wichita to OKC: “It's a 20-minute flight? Why don't we just walk?”