Durant progressing from ankle injuryKevin Durant shot jumpers before the start of Saturday’s game at New Orleans, launching shots from as deep as the 3-point line despite recovering from a sprained right ankle. It’s unclear when Durant will return, but the Thunder’s leading scorer is aiming for next Wednesday’s game at Denver. "If not, Phoenix I think for sure,” Durant said. "Right now it’s still a little sore when I wake up in the morning. We’re trying to get that out. But as of right now it’s getting better. Only thing I can’t do is probably run as fast as I used to. I just can’t sprint. I’m jumping on it a little bit but other than that I’m alright.” Thunder coach Scott Brooks said the team is not going to risk playing Durant until the injury is 100 percent.
Matchup with Paul a learning experience for WestbrookBrooks said Saturday’s head-to-head matchup between Hornets point guard Chris Paul and guard Russell Westbrook was an opportunity for the Thunder’s rookie to learn from the game’s best lead guard. "The thing I like about Chris Paul is his toughness,” Brooks said. "He really competes on both ends of the court. He gets his guys into the game, and if they’re not mentally, he tells them that they’re not in it. I think you acquire that with experience. "First-year players are not really sure of themselves that they can do that. And most teams aren’t going to allow that to happen. But with Chris Paul he really gets that team playing up to the level they should be playing at.”
Swift tending to personal mattersCenter Robert Swift did not travel with the team to New Orleans because of personal reasons. The team declined to specify the nature of Swift’s issue, citing team policy. It’s unclear whether Swift will be available tonight against Philadelphia.
Fatigue a concern for shorthanded ThunderWith injuries to Durant, Green, Thabo Sefolosha (sprained knee), Desmond Mason and Swift dealing with a personal matter, the Thunder had only eight players available Saturday. The Thunder could face a similar situation tonight against Philadelphia. "The guys who are going to have opportunities to play, we just want them to play hard when they get minutes, whether they get an extra five or six minutes or they’re getting an extra 20 minutes,” Brooks said. "We just have to play hard and play well and play together as a team. That’s all I can ask from our guys.” BY DARNELL MAYBERRY