The Thunder was without its starting center and sixth man Friday at Portland, both being held out with what are believed to be minor injuries.
Kendrick Perkins missed the game with a sore right hamstring, an injury he sustained Thursday night at Golden State. Kevin Martin was sidelined with a sore back, also an injury that occurred against the Warriors.
Reserve center Hasheem Thabeet started in place of Perkins, while seldom-used swingman Ronnie Brewer logged much of the minutes Martin typically plays.
PRESTI, THUNDER SUPPORTING DURANT
In the aftermath of the NBA fining Kevin Durant $25,000, Thunder general manager Sam Presti said the team supports the league's decision but also expressed faith in Durant's character.
“We respect the league's decision,” Presti said. “Kevin accepts responsibility for his actions. His lapse in judgment is in no way reflective of his character. We will continue to appreciate and support him.”
NO MORE ALTERNATES
Following a 19-point win over the Warriors on Friday night, the Thunder will finish the regular season with a 6-5 record in its alternate uniforms, the first season the team has worn the navy blue threads.
Oklahoma City went 2-0 at home in the jerseys and 4-5 in them on the road.
“I just look at the last two games we played in them,” Durant said, half-jokingly. “We played pretty well. I'll take that.”
STAYING FOCUSED DOWN THE STRETCH
After five consecutive games against teams that are either in the playoffs or fighting to get in, the Thunder entered Friday's game against the Blazers charged with finishing the season against three sub-.500 teams, two of which did not qualify for the postseason.
The challenge going into the final three games was staying focused and finishing strong.
“We know what we have to do, man,” Durant said. “We want to win every single game. We want to play well. We want to play hard. And we want to get better. No matter who we play, we just try to bring that mindset.”
LILLARD “OBVIOUS” CHOICE FOR ROY
Portland rookie guard Damian Lillard is virtually a lock to win this year's Rookie of the Year award, and the Thunder is among the seemingly 99 percent of people on the planet who think it's only a formality.
“He has the composure of a guy that's been in the league for seven or eight years,” said Thunder coach Scott Brooks. “Nothing seems to bother or rattle him. He makes big shots. He makes plays for his team. He just plays with so much control, and it's great to see the improvement that he has made throughout this year. He had a great first month and it seems like every month he's played a little bit better. He's obviously going to win Rookie of the year the way he has played.”
Lillard entered Friday's game averaging 19.1 points, 3.1 rebounds and 6.5 assists.
“I'm a big fan of him,” said Durant. “I like the way he carries himself on the court. He's quiet. He looks like he's been through it before. I root for guys like him. He's never flashy. You don't see him out there talking trash.”
Brooks on being short-handed for the second time this season at Portland — “DeAndre (Liggins) isn't walking through that door.”