Center Nenad Krstic is shooting a basketball for the first time since his Sept. 21 surgery on the right index finger of his shooting hand and could possibly play Thursday night against New Orleans at the Ford Center in the Thunder's final preseason game.
"He got the pin out, he got some shots and it feels good," Thunder coach Scott Brooks said of Krstic. "He still hasn't shot a basketball in six weeks, but (Tuesday), Wednesday and Thursday, I think we'll get some shots out of him to see how it feels and then make a decision about Thursday night. There is a possibility he'll play (against the Hornets), but we won't know that until Thursday."
Thabo Sefolosha (right pinkie) and Cole Aldrich (left shoulder) sat out of Tuesday night's 130-115 loss at Denver and Brooks said both are day-to-day.
Serge Ibaka (right wrist) also sat out against the Nuggets. "Serge is fine, just resting," Brooks said.
Because Tuesday's game was a preseason contest, it officially will not be considered a missed start for Kevin Durant or Russell Westbrook.
Durant's last missed start in the regular season is March 11, 2009, coincidentally in Denver. Durant has started every game he has played in since joining the NBA in 2007, having missed 10 games in three seasons due to injury.
Westbrook hasn't missed an official start since he first cracked the Thunder's starting lineup on Nov. 29, 2008, in Memphis.
Brooks didn't start the duo against the Nuggets so he could give them a much-deserved rest during a back-to-back road trip. During the summer, Durant and Westbrook were members of Team USA, which won the gold medal at the FIBA World Championship in Turkey.
Asked if his two stars understood his reasoning for the break, Brooks smiled and said, "No, not at all. They want to play. There are times they don't understand they need a rest during a game, either, but I like that. I like people with a competitive nature, people who feel that if they're not out there they let the team down. They've earned this (rest). I kind of know what they both do."
Durant and Westbrook still got in a workout Tuesday, going hard for 90 minutes of drills under the guidance of assistant coaches about three hours before tipoff.
"The philosophy is you put them through some harder workouts so they want to practice and they want to play games, otherwise they have to go through a workout that's actually harder," Brook deadpanned.
Asked if he put up a fight to be left in the starting lineup, Westbrook said, "Of course I did. You want to play all the games, but in preseason you can't really get mad at him (Brooks). He made us work hard before the game, though."
Denver guard Aaron Afflalo was teammates with Westbrook for one season at UCLA.
"He's good," Afflalo recalled of Westbrook. "I remember in school how competitive he was. Coach (Ben Howland) used to always get on him his freshman year, but he never let that get to him. He always had the athletic ability. It was always about harnessing the game he has. It definitely shows on this level. He has great lateral quickness as well. I would definitely say he's one of the best athletes in the league."
Afflalo led the Nuggets with 22 points.
THUNDER RALLY EVENT
The Thunder and MidFirst Bank will kick off the season Saturday with Thunder Rally at the MidFirst Bank located on the corner of Grand and Western.
Durant and Westbrook are scheduled to make an appearance and take part in the activities. Rumble the Bison and the Thunder Girls will be on hand to meet fans and take pictures.
The event, which will be from 1 to 3 p.m., is free and open to the public. Fans can sign up to win prizes and participate in interactive games such as, pop-a-shot, bean bag tosses and sport court games.