OKC Thunder: Scott Brooks will rest Kevin Durant and Russell Westbrook against Bulls

Stars will not play so Brooks can evaluate the rest of the roster.
BY JOHN ROHDE, Staff Writer, jrohde@opubco.com Published: October 22, 2012
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photo - Oklahoma City's Kevin Durant (35) tries to get around Denver's Danilo Gallinari (8) during the NBA preseason basketball game between the Oklahoma City Thunder and the Denver Nuggets at the Chesapeake Energy Arena, Sunday, Oct. 21, 2012. Photo by Sarah Phipps, The Oklahoman
Oklahoma City's Kevin Durant (35) tries to get around Denver's Danilo Gallinari (8) during the NBA preseason basketball game between the Oklahoma City Thunder and the Denver Nuggets at the Chesapeake Energy Arena, Sunday, Oct. 21, 2012. Photo by Sarah Phipps, The Oklahoman

Thunder coach Scott Brooks presumably will hear some more boos when his team plays at Chicago on Tuesday night.

Brooks got an earful on Friday night in Tulsa when he refused to insert popular sixth man James Harden (groin injury) against Phoenix, despite chants of “We want Harden” from a sellout crowd at the BOK Center.

Fans attending the preseason contest between the Thunder and Bulls at the United Center might voice their displeasure when they realize Brooks has opted to not play three-time scoring champion Kevin Durant and All-Star teammate Russell Westbrook.

Brooks has yet to repeat the same starting lineup this entire preseason, which will make Tuesday the sixth different combination.

In Sunday night's 108-101 victory at home against Denver, Brooks was able to use his normal starting for the first time with the returns of guard Thabo Sefolosha (thigh bruise) and center Kendrick Perkins (left wrist) from injury rehab.

Against the Bulls, Brooks has chosen to sit Olympic gold medalists in Durant and Westbrook, partly for rest after a hectic summer, but primarily so Brooks can continue his far-reaching evaluation of an overloaded roster.

“Give some looks to other guys,” Brooks said of his latest starting combo. “It had nothing to do with injuries. I wanted to see guys play extended minutes and (this was) the only way to do that, because we have so many guys at the wing spot.”

Brooks said free agent guard DeAndre Liggins and reserve forward Lazar Hayward also will get extended looks against the Bulls, who feature former Thunder players Nate Robinson and Nazr Mohammed.

This will be a rare moment for Maynor, the calm and confident backup point guard whose only other start with the Thunder came in a 2010 preseason game at Denver. Despite coming off knee surgery and playing just nine games last season, Maynor has a 3.53-to-1 assist-to-turnover ratio in four preseason games this year.



Thunder at Bulls

When: 7 p.m.

Where: United Center, Chicago

TV: NBA TV (Cox 256, HD Ch. 726)

Radio: WWLS 98.1-FM, WWLS 640-AM

 Three things to know

* Former Thunder reserve Nate Robinson is averaging 12.8 points while starting at point guard in place of injured Derrick Rose.

* Former Thunder reserve Nazr Mohammed is averaging 9.0 points, 7.5 rebounds and 20.0 minutes off the bench this preseason.

* The Bulls are 4-2 this preseason and have one game left, against Indiana on Friday night at the Notre Dame's Joyce Center.

Projected starters

Thunder (3-2)

Pos.; Player; Ht.; Pts.; Reb.; Ast.

G; Eric Maynor; 6-3;7.5;2.5;5.3

G; Thabo Sefolosha; 6-7;8.0;4.0;0.0

G; James Harden; 6-5;12.5;2.5;3.0

F; Serge Ibaka; 6-10;14.3;7.3;1.3-x

C; Kendrick Perkins; 6-10;4.0;4.0;2.0-x

 Bulls (4-2)

Pos.; Player; Ht.; Pts.; Reb.; Ast.

G; Nate Robinson; 5-9;12.8;2.5;4.0

G; Richard Hamilton; 6-7;15.3;3.3;1.3

F; Luol Deng; 6-9;9.0;2.7;1.3

F; Carlos Boozer; 6-9;7.8;5.0;0.8

C; Joakim Noah; 6-11;11.0;10.0;2.3

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