Trash talkingJames Harden, one of nine rookies selected for the Rookie-Sophomore Game Feb. 12 in Dallas, will be playing against Thunder teammate Russell Westbrook, one of nine second-year players selected. "Talking trash, just having fun and competing, that’s what brings us closer (as a team),” Harden said, smiling. "(The rookies) will definitely win.” It’s not a Joe Namath Super Bowl III-like upset prediction. But the sophomores have won seven consecutive games. Kevin Durant scored 46 points to lead the sophomores to a 122-116 win last year in Phoenix. The sophomore roster includes: Derrick Rose (Chicago), Marc Gasol (Memphis), Brook Lopez (New Jersey), Michael Beasley (Miami), Kevin Love (Minnesota), O.J. Mayo (Memphis), Danilo Gallinari (New York), Eric Gordon (Clippers) and Westbrook. "They don’t have a chance,” Westbrook said. "Look at our team and you make the prediction. They really don’t have any bigs.” The rookies are guard heavy. Harden’s teammates include: Tyreke Evans (Sacramento), Brandon Jennings (Milwaukee), Stephon Curry (Golden State), Jonny Flynn (Minnesota), Omri Casspi (Sacramento), Taj Gibson (Chicago), Jonas Jerebko (Detroit), DeJuan Blair (San Antonio).
Tough nightThunder coach Scott Brooks said after the game the Bulls were the better team Wednesday night, insinuating he was disappointed with his team’s energy and overall effort for one of the few times in recent weeks. "We started off the game giving up 56 points the first half. That’s now how we play,” Brooks said. "We have to play with more of a defensive disposition. We didn’t have that tonight. Then we regrouped and got it back together in the third quarter but offensively it wasn’t there. ... We had some good (shots). We took some bad ones. When we were getting stops we didn’t have it offensively. That’s a bad combination.”
Bulls dominate boardsLed by Joakim Noah’s double-double (13 points, 11 rebounds), the Bulls dominated the boards 53-40. "They’re the No. 1 rebounding team in the league,” Nick Collison said. "Their bigs are active. They’re long. They do a good job. Their entire team is doing a good job right now.”
Green productiveJeff Green posted one of his best halves of the season, scoring 18 points before intermission to keep the Thunder from getting blown out. Green finished with 24 points and nine rebounds. "Jeff was the bright spot tonight,” Brooks said. "If there’s something we can take from this game, it’s Jeff has been playing some good basketball. He’s had good energy the last 10 days or so. Tonight he gave us everything he had.”
Weather issuesTo try and avoid players driving on slick roads, Brooks moved today’s practice up to 10 a.m. The Nuggets also made sure to beat a forecasted ice storm by flying to Oklahoma City on Wednesday night following their game in Houston.
Fast breakDurant scored 28 points to push his streak of consecutive 25-point games to 19 straight. Durant’s streak appeared to be in jeopardy when he had only 16 points after three quarters. ... The Thunder drew an announced crowd of 17,562 on a night OU and OSU were also playing at home. ... Before tipoff, Bulls forward Luol Deng shook hands with Bears defensive tackle Tommie Harris, the former OU star seated in the front row. Stacey King, a former OU All-American, is now a member of the Bulls’ broadcast team. Seated next to Harris was Ravens wide receiver Mark Clayton.