Wednesday night's preseason contest against the Dallas Mavericks drew an arena record crowd of 15,004 at Intrust Bank Arena in Wichita. OKC also drew a sellout crowd of 18,222 at the Sprint Center in Kansas City, Mo., for a preseason game against the Miami Heat on Oct. 8, 2010.
According to Intrust Arena officials, 95 percent of Wednesday's crowd were from Kansas, 6 percent were from Oklahoma and the remaining 4 percent were from elsewhere.
The two most popular players in the arena Wednesday were former Kansas players Nick Collison and Cole Aldrich, who constantly were surrounded by fans and local media.
“I knew Nick and Cole are big (here). I didn't know they were that big,” Thunder coach Scott Brooks said. “They're rock stars.”
The Wichita fans were passionate and arrived early. No one was booed on either side, and both teams were applauded. The tunnel leading to the Thunder locker room was lined with autograph seekers 90 minutes before tipoff.
“The fans were here early and that's a great atmosphere,” Brooks said. “The players always appreciate that. Hopefully, they walked away in thinking this is a good team to follow and hopefully they continue.”
NBA cut day is Monday at 4 p.m., and the Thunder has only one spot available on its roster for free agent candidates Daniel Orton, DeAndre Liggins, Hollis Thompson or Andy Rautins.
Brooks said he might decide on final cuts as early as Saturday. “We're going to evaluate what all the guys have done and probably practice once or twice and then make that decision,” Brooks said.
The NBA roster maximum is 15.
OKC players had Thursday off and return to practice Friday morning. … The Thunder won four of its final five preseason games to finish 4-3 and has a full week before playing its regular-season opener Nov. 1 at San Antonio. “We just have to lock in and zone in on what we want to do in the next week,” Brooks said. … OKC is now 12-17 all-time in the preseason. … The Thunder had five sellouts in seven preseason games and drew a paid attendance of 114,159, which included an opening night crowd of 5,198 in Hidalgo, Texas, against the Houston Rockets. The other six games had an average attendance of 18,160.
Brooks on making the final cuts: “It's a tough decision, but it's a decision that has to be made. It's a very tough league to make. As a player it's hard to make this league and when you do, it's a privilege to be in the league.”
BY JOHN ROHDE