Thunder power forward Nick Collison, who missed Tuesday night's 115-114 overtime victory at home over Golden State, was activated for Wednesday night's contest at Phoenix.
Good thing he was available, too. OKC starting center Kendrick Perkins picked up his second foul with 6:12 remaining in the first quarter and was replaced by Collison.
Reserve guard Nate Robinson said he “still has some work to do” before his game is back to form following arthroscopic surgery on his right knee March 4. He was activated Tuesday.
During his time on the sideline, Robinson said he quickly built an appreciation for his new teammates.
“They play so hard it reminds me of going to a gym and playing in a pickup game,” Robinson said. “You don't want to lose. You want to stay on the court all day, have the bragging rights, and that's how they play every night. That's special. That's something a lot of teams in this league don't have.”
With second-year reserve guard James Harden playing well and returning to the area where he played collegiately at Arizona State, Thunder coach Scott Brooks was peppered with questions about the former Sun Devil.
“He's had a great two months now,” Brooks said. “He's just been on a roll. He's being aggressive. He's not hesitating. He can do it every night and he has been. He's attacking the rim. He's putting it all together and he's doing it consistently.”
Brooks said he's been so pleased with Harden's play, he even has gotten to the point where he has accepted Harden's beard.
“It's a bad beard, but it fits him,” Brooks said. “I can't imagine not seeing a beard on him now. I kind of like it. I did not like it for a long time. If he has a bad month, I might change my theory on his beard.”
Throughout the game, one Phoenix fan repeatedly pleaded, “Hey, Harden. Come back. We need you.”
ALDRICH TO TULSA
Thunder rookie center Cole Aldrich has been assigned to Tulsa in the NBA Developmental League for a third time this season.
During his two earlier assignments with the 66ers, Aldrich appeared in 19 games (19 starts) and averaged 10.2 points, 8.4 rebounds and 2.4 blocked shots in 29.2 minutes. Aldrich has recorded four double-doubles with Tulsa, and the 66ers own a 15-4 mark this season with him in the lineup.
Aldrich will be in uniform Friday night when the 66ers host the Dakota Wizards at the Tulsa Convention Center.