Defending H-O-R-S-E titleBesides making his All-Star Game debut Sunday night in Dallas, Durant will defend his H-O-R-S-E title Saturday afternoon. "Last year the fans were really into it,” Durant said. "It was televised nationally. It was fun. It’s pretty cool. I’m excited to do it again.” Has he come up with some trick shots? "I might try some,” Durant said. "But if I’m not making them, that’s when I’ll go to my regular tactics (long-range shots). I’m just going to do it on the fly. I actually didn’t practice for last year’s competition.”
"Real” All-Star experienceLast season the All-Star Game was held in Phoenix. Thunder rookie guard James Harden, at the time, was playing for Arizona State. He could sense a buzz in the city but didn’t get to experience any of the festivities. "We were playing UCLA and USC that weekend, so coach (Herb Sendek) had us in the hotel,” Harden said. "We didn’t get to go out and do anything. But we won both games so it was worth it.”
Dialing long distanceHarden is second on the Thunder behind Durant in 3-point baskets. What’s unusual is Harden is shooting nearly as well on 3-pointers (37.8) as his overall field goal percentage (38.6). "The extra time in the gym has really helped,” Harden said. "I’m shooting the 3-pointer well right now. When I don’t (shoot 3’s) I try to take the ball to the basket. Even if you don’t score, it helps you get to the line.”
Ibaka more comfortableCoach Scott Brooks was asked if Serge Ibaka playing more than half a season against NBA teams has helped the rookie’s maturation once he plays teams a second and third time. "I think it’s more a comfort level with us, our guys, myself, our staff,” Brooks said. "You do pick things up playing against a certain player. But he’s so much more comfortable with our setting what we’re doing as a team. That has helped.”
White updateSecond-year forward D.J. White underwent surgery two weeks ago for a fractured right thumb he suffered intercepting a pass during a practice in Minneapolis. "It just hit me in the wrong spot,” White said. The original estimate was White, who has appeared in eight games, would be sidelined six to eight weeks. White had the original cast removed last Monday and is now wearing a soft cast. It’s uncertain how long it will be before he can return to practice.