Forward Serge Ibaka and guard Thabo Sefolosha became the first Thunder starters to not be in the lineup this season and both did not play in Sunday night's 87-83 victory over the Portland Trail Blazers at the Rose Garden.
Ibaka suffered a contusion on the left side of his chest in the third quarter of Friday night's 116-101 victory over the Los Angeles Lakers at Staples Center. Sefolosha was sidelined with a sore neck.
The status of both players for Monday night's game at Phoenix was uncertain.
Before Sunday, the Thunder had been the only team in the NBA to use the same starting lineup every game this season.
Veteran Nick Collison replaced Ibaka and DeAndre Liggins, who began this season with a triple-double playing for the Tulsa 66ers in the Developmental League, replaced Sefolosha.
It was Collison's 170th start in nine seasons and the first start in 31 career games for Liggins, a second-year player from Kentucky known for his defensive prowess.
Incredibly, Liggins played more minutes (40) than anybody on the OKC roster and nearly had a double-double. He finished with 11 points and nine rebounds.
Despite missing his first start since Feb. 23, 2011 — the day before Jeff Green and Nenad Krstic were traded to Boston in exchange for Kendrick Perkins and Nate Robinson — Ibaka was still upbeat one hour before Sunday's game.
“I'm good. I'm good,” Ibaka said. “Just a little sore, but I'll be fine.”
One of the keys to the Thunder's victory was limiting rookie sensation Damian Lillard to nine points on 3-for-13 shooting from the field (2 for 9 on 3-pointers) after he erupted for a career-high 37 points at Golden State on Friday night.
“Is he a rookie?” Thunder coach Scott Brooks deadpanned. “He's impressive. He looks like a six- or seven-year veteran. He just has great poise. That's what you really love about him. He controls the game. He figures out what the game needs and he tries to give it to the team.”
HALL OF FAMERS?
Dime Magazine assembled a list of “5 Players Under 25 Years Old With The Best Chance To Make The Hall Of Fame,” and three players selected have Oklahoma ties.
Thunder forward and three-time NBA scoring champion Kevin Durant was ranked No. 1, OKC guard Russell Westbrook was No. 4 and Los Angeles Clippers forward Blake Griffin of OU was No. 5.
Chicago point guard Derrick Rose at No. 2 and Minnesota forward Kevin Love at No. 3 complete the list.
BY JOHN ROHDE