With leading bench scorer James Harden sidelined with a strained right hamstring, veteran forward Nick Collison has begun to pick up some of the scoring through a more aggressive approach on the offensive end. Collison, who is averaging 5.7 points this season, has scored 33 points on 15 of 22 shooting over the three games that Harden has missed. Before the past three games, Collison had averaged just 3.8 shot attempts in 56 games. His 15 points in Wednesday’s loss at Charlotte were the most since his season-high 18 points on Dec. 2 against Philadelphia. "I don’t think it’s necessarily something, with James being out, that I’ve thought about,” Collison said. "I’ve just been trying to be more aggressive. My shot feels pretty good, and offensively I’ve been feeling better.” Collison now strokes 15- to 17-footers without hesitation when the ball is swung his way. When Harden was in the lineup, Collison often passed up the mid-range shot and preferred to find his place under the rim for a potential rebound. "I think it helps us,” Collison said. "I haven’t made a real conscious effort of it, but I’m trying to really look for offense when it’s available because I feel like I’m playing well offensively.”
UPON FURTHER REVIEWThunder coach Scott Brooks initially thought second-year shooting guard Kyle Weaver passed up three to four shots against the Bobcats. But after watching the film, Brooks said Weaver only passed on one good opportunity and made a smart play on the other occasions. "He made some good passes, and he was a ball mover. That’s what he does,” Brooks said. "You forget that’s what he’s really good at. He loves to pass the ball and move the ball.” Weaver, who replaced Harden as the backup shooting guard, has failed to duplicate the rookie’s scoring so far. Weaver appears to be passing on opportunities, taking only five shots and failing to score since stepping in for Harden three games ago. "I don’t want Kyle to play outside his game,” Brooks said. "We’ll find enough scoring.”
THUNDER GETS TESTY IN PRACTICEAttributing a fierce and fiery practice to wanting to get past Wednesday’s blown opportunity at Charlotte, Kevin Durant proudly spoke about how things got heated during Thursday’s session. "It was cutthroat,” Durant said. "One-on-one, going at each other and bringing the best out of each other. We got angry. We threw basketballs. We yelled and screamed. But it’s all a part of our growth. I think it was one of our better practices. We’re excited for shoot-around (today) and the game.”
BRIEFLYJeff Green sat out a portion of Thursday’s practice but not to protect his elbow after falling hard Wednesday. Green sustained a sprained finger on his non-shooting hand when he reached for the ball and got his finger caught in Serge Ibaka’s jersey. ... At the end of Thursday’s practice, Mustafa Shakur, Eric Maynor and D.J. White played a competitive game of 3-on-3 against Kevin Ollie, Weaver and Etan Thomas. Assistant coaches Brian Keefe and Ron Adams monitored the game, and Brooks said he didn’t want them to play but the players insisted in an attempt to stay sharp. ... Harden launched 3-pointers and other mid-range shots after practice Thursday. He didn’t appear to be favoring his right hamstring.
QUOTABLEKevin Durant on whether he filled out a bracket for the NCAA Tournament — "I didn’t get to. I’m going to fill one out after the games today. That’s going to help me out.”
Collison concentrating more on offense