Defensive improvementOpponents have shot 43.8 percent from the field and averaged 89.3 points in regulation the past four games. Thabo Sefolosha, who did a solid job on Washington star Antawn Jamison the final three possessions, has made a noticeable impact defensively. Sefolosha had three blocks. "He plays with a lot of intensity, and that’s what we’re about,” said Thunder coach Scott Brooks. "When we play focused, intense, defensive basketball, we’re good. I’m still getting to know him, and he is still learning what we’re doing, but he has a knack for the ball.”
GREEN, DURANT UPDATEKevin Durant (sprained ankle) and Jeff Green (sore lower back) didn’t suit out, but Durant no longer is wearing a protective boot. Both shot some during pre-game warm-ups. Brooks said each will be put through cutting and stop-and-start drills before they’re allowed to return. "They’re both so competitive, they want to be out there,” Brooks said. "That’s a good thing, but they’ll have to show us they’re 100 percent.” It’s doubtful either will play this weekend — Saturday in New Orleans, Sunday at home against the Philadelphia 76ers — but both are improving to where they could return sometime the next week to 10 days.
COLLISON HAS BIG NIGHTNick Collison recorded his ninth double-double (12 points, 10 rebounds), which is third on the team behind Durant and Green. Collison said an X-ray taken Monday revealed a broken left thumb he suffered two days before Christmas still hasn’t healed. "They’re not sure exactly why, but I’ll probably have to wear this splint the rest of the year,” Collison said. "It doesn’t bother me too much. The new splint doesn’t cover the tip of my thumb like the old one did. "It might affect me one play out of 50.”
BALANCED SCORINGWhen Durant went down a week ago, one question is where would the offense come from? In Wednesday’s win, all five starters scored in double figures. Nenad Krstic scored a team-high 18 points after scoring a season-high 26 against Dallas. Sefolosha has averaged 14.3 points the past four games. Kyle Weaver has averaged 12.8 the past six games.
MILITARY APPRECIATION NIGHTThe Thunder partnered with USAA to salute service members and their families. More than 1,800 tickets were donated by season ticket holders. At halftime, Oklahoma Purple Heart recipients were honored. A Thunder Appreciation Night commemorative coin was given to the first 2,000 military personnel in attendance. Fans also could purchase souvenirs that will be shipped in a military care package.
FAST BREAK...Monday was the one-year anniversary of Oklahoma City voters approving a sales tax for $121 million of Ford Center renovations if an NBA team moved to town. ... Desmond Mason was cleared Wednesday to stop using crutches. Mason underwent surgery five weeks ago to remove debris from his right knee. ... For the second consecutive game, Damien Wilkins (eight points) provided solid contribution off the bench after playing in only three games the previous month. ... Robert Swift scored six points, the most he’s had since Dec. 29. BY MIKE BALDWIN