Thabo Sefolosha, acquired in a trade two weeks ago from Chicago, has lived up to his reputation as a defensive stopper. The Swiss product, adept at slashing to the basket, has averaged 14.3 points the past four games. "That helps because we’re not relying on jump shots,” said Thunder teammate Nick Collison. "We all know there are nights if you’re not hitting jump shots, you don’t have a chance. We don’t have post players where you throw the ball inside and get to the basket. When we’re attacking the basket, we’re a much better team.”
STRANGE BUT TRUEThe Thunder’s season-long, three-game winning streak has been during a stretch when Kevin Durant has been sidelined with a sprained ankle. Jeff Green, the team’s second-leading scorer, has missed the last two games. Both players remain day-to-day and are questionable for this weekend. "There’s no question we’re a better team with those guys,” said Thunder coach Scott Brooks. "But when you have guys out, I’ve told our guys from Day 1, we have 14 guys. It takes us all to make a team successful and make it work. It’s hard to (play well after sitting out several games).”
MUCH IMPROVEDOklahoma City is 13-16 since New Year’s Eve. That’s a dramatic improvement compared to a 3-29 start that had some suggesting the Thunder might challenge the 76ers’ single-season futility record (9-73). "The biggest thing is our guys stayed together,” Brooks said. "When you have a team that’s not winning, it’s easy to point fingers. Blame it on the coaches or each other. It’s that old theory the front of the bus talks about the back of the bus and vice versa. But our guys knew we’d get better if we worked hard and pushed each other in practice.”
PLAYING TIMEDamien Wilkins played only 21 minutes combined over a 24-game span before seeing extensive playing time in wins over Dallas and Washington. Wilkins has played a combined 29 minutes in the two wins, scoring seven points against the Mavericks, eight against the Wizards. "I’ve had to treat practice like games,” Wilkins said. "It is what it is. You take the good with the bad. If you sit and pout about it, then you’re being childish. But all players want an opportunity. It’s fun to be out there on the floor. ”
ULTIMATE FANFans can vote for their favorite fan at thunder.nba.com through March 17. The crowd the following night, when the Thunder hosts the Bulls, will choose the Ultimate Fan from among four finalists. The winner receives an all-expenses paid trip to see the Thunder play the Celtics on March 29 in Boston.
FAST BREAK...Green (sore back) worked out briefly with the team Thursday and remains day-to-day. Durant (sprained ankle) has not participated in a practice since suffering the injury a week ago and probably won’t play this weekend. ... The Thunder has improved at home — 10-6 in the Ford Center since New Year’s Eve — but is 4-25 on the road. With the Big 12 Tournament coming to town next week, four of their next five games are on the road. The only home game during that stretch is Sunday against Philadelphia. BY MIKE BALDWIN