Oklahoma City Thunder center Kendrick Perkins, who suffered a sprained ankle with 4:45 left in Friday night's victory against Portland, is expected to start Sunday's 6 p.m. game against the Atlanta Hawks at Chesapeake Energy Arena.
“He should (start), yeah,” OKC coach Scott Brooks said after Saturday's film session and light workout. “We'll see how he feels (Sunday). It wasn't as bad as I initially thought. He's feeling much better today than I thought he would.”
The Hawks are coming off a 109-102 season-opening loss at home to Houston on Friday when former Thunder sixth man James Harden scored a career-high 45 points.
“It's definitely a new team,” Brooks said of Atlanta. “They're a fast team. A lot of times they play two point guards at the same time with Devin Harris and Jeff Teague. They get in transition and try to score early. … It's a team we really have to respect. They're athletic and they're fast and they like to score.”
KEVIN DURANT'S FAMILY IN MARYLAND SAFE FROM ‘SANDY'
Thunder All-Star forward Kevin Durant was born in Washington D.C., raised in neighboring Maryland and still has several family members in the area, all of whom escaped the wrath of Superstorm Sandy that devastated the northeast last week.
“I didn't really hit Maryland,” Durant said. “I was checking in with grandmother and father. It was supposed to be bad, but by the grace of God, it was just a little rain where they are. I feel for the people up in New York and New Jersey. They got hit hard.”
DURANT LEADS NBA IN REBOUNDING THROUGH TWO GAMES
Durant awoke Saturday as the NBA's leading rebounder at 15.5 per game. This comes on the heels of being the league's scoring champ the past three seasons.
Brooks said he had no idea Durant was the league's top rebounder. “Next year we're going to say, ‘Lead the league in assists,' ” Brooks said.
Durant also is averaging 23.0 points, which ranked ninth in the league.
“He's definitely in a slump right now,” Brooks joked. “He's led the league three years in a row. That's in jeopardy. We've got 80 games to figure that out.”
THUNDER'S FREE-THROW SHOOTING LESS EFFECTIVE
The Thunder led the NBA in free-throw shooting percentage the past two seasons and finished second three years ago.
OKC shot 80.6 percent last season, 82.3 percent in 2010-11 (fifth-highest season percentage in NBA history) and 80.5 percent in 2009-10.
The Thunder ranks 14th so far this season and is shooting 76.4 percent after going 23 for 32 (.719) in Friday's home victory against Portland.
ROOKIE JEREMY LAMB DRAINS LONG THREE-POINTER
Thunder rookie Jeremy Lamb has played just 68 seconds this season, and capitalized by draining a long-range 3-pointer with 19.5 seconds left in Friday's game.
“Any time I can get him a minute, it's important because they add up,” Brooks said.
The official game book had Lamb's attempt listed at 27 feet.
“I thought he was trying to compete with Rumble (on his half-court shot during timeouts) with the distance that he shot that,” Brooks said. “It was easily 30.”
THUNDER GUARD KEVIN MARTIN OK WITH ‘K-MART'
Thunder shooting guard Kevin Martin has no objection to being called K-Mart.
“I can live with it — as long as the other one's not in the league. He gets kind of mad,” Martin said.
The other K-Mart is 6-foot-9, 234-pound Kenyon Martin, who no longer is in the NBA.
Thanks to the Harden trade, Houston's lone visit to OKC on Nov. 28 has been picked up by NBA TV. The network also added Tuesday's home game against Toronto. Dropped were the Thunder's game at Portland on Jan. 13 and OKC's game at Dallas on Feb. 4. … Atlanta is the first of three straight Sunday home games for the Thunder. OKC plays eight Sunday home games this season and 15 total. … With Friday's victory after Thursday's loss at San Antonio, the Thunder is now 36-9 after a loss since the beginning of the 2010-11 season.
-- JOHN ROHDE