Nick Collison could only chuckle at the irony, perplexed by the position he’s found himself in as the Thunder cruises along this NBA season. A year ago, the veteran power forward had declared by mid-December that the Thunder’s inaugural season, because of its near historically bad start, was the most miserable year he’d ever experienced. On Wednesday, he confessed that this season hasn’t been much better — this time because of his personal performance.
So you can imagine how comforted Collison was following the Thunder’s 117-106 victory over Philadelphia, a game in which he returned from a four-game absence and sparked Oklahoma City with a season-high 18 points and seven rebounds off the bench. "Our team’s done well, and it’s been fun to be a part of that, but personally, I haven’t been able to play as well as I’ve wanted to,” Collison said. "I’ll take winning over anything. But when you feel like you’re capable of doing more, it’s always a little frustrating when you can’t.” The Thunder improved to 10-8 overall and 5-4 inside the Ford Center. Oklahoma City moved to 6-1 against the Eastern Conference, its lone lost coming at Orlando. Collison, however, has had trouble enjoying it after coming into training camp with a severely sprained ankle that has yet to fully heal. He missed the past four games with a knee injury and entered Wednesday’s game averaging 4.1 points and 3.7 rebounds, the lowest totals since his rookie season. Against the Sixers, though, Collison was as healthy as he’s been since the summer and erupted from the moment he checked in for the first time with 9:19 remaining in the second quarter. Within his first 90 seconds, Collison nailed a baseline jumper, came up with a steal and baited Philadelphia forward Jason Smith into an offensive foul. Another 90 seconds had hardly passed before Collison scooped up two offensive rebounds.