Forward Joe Smith, who suffered a broken nose that required surgery, wore a mask during Wednesday’s practice. "It went pretty good,” Smith said. "It’s going to take some time getting used to it. It’s pretty hot and sweaty under that mask. But my vision wasn’t disturbed. As long as that’s not messed up I’ll be fine.”
Smith, a 13-year veteran, might play in only one preseason game. And that was on Oct. 10. "I’ve been around a lot of systems,” Smith said. "Even though I haven’t been on the floor, I’ve seen what we’re doing offensively and defensively... The big thing is getting into a rhythm shooting and defensively.”
Big challengeThe Thunder will be challenged in the paint the next two weeks. Tonight the Thunder faces the Suns (Shaquille O’Neal and Amare Stoudemire). Friday night it’s the Lakers (Andrew Bynum and Pau Gasol). The first three regular season-games are against Milwaukee (Andrew Bogut), Houston (Yao Ming) and Minnesota (Al Jefferson). "Post defense is something we’ll look closely at,” said Thunder coach P.J. Carlesimo. "We get to play against some bigs these last two (preseason) games, realizing we’ll get to see that in our early games.”
Low expectationsESPN.com previewed the Western Conference on Wednesday. Their analysts are optimistic Oklahoma City will improve much on last season’s 20-62 record.