The Thunder plays six games the next nine days, including five games next week. That’s why coach P.J. Carlesimo practiced only one hour Thursday and probably will give players Saturday off. "November, in general, is tough for most teams with a bunch of games,” Carlesimo said. "We’re looking at people to see if they’re playing at a level we can put them in a game. Some guys looked better, some guys didn’t. It will come down to people who’ve been getting minutes how they’re playing.” Carlesimo wouldn’t tip his hand whether Robert Swift, Mo Sene or Kyle Weaver might play some during the demanding stretch.
LACKING CONSISTENCYAfter watching film of Wednesday’s loss to Boston, Carlesimo said the biggest issue was the gap between the highs and lows. "We had some very good minutes, segments where we ran and were aggressive on both ends of the floor,” Carlesimo said. "And we had some significant parts we had very little energy ... It was like almost watching two different teams. We have to limit, as best we can, the real extremes.” Desmond Mason said: "I’ve talked to some of the young guys about it. We’re really close (to jelling). It’s just certain mental breakdowns. We’re making good plays. The big thing is to be consistent. You see our young guys work hard, even after practice. We’re not very far away.”
WILLIAMS’ STATUS UNCERTAINUtah point guard Deron Williams, who won an Olympic gold medal this summer, has had to wait to make his 2008-09 NBA debut. Sidelined by a severely sprained ankle suffered three weeks ago that’s also causing nerve-related pain in his foot, Williams is questionable tonight. Williams averaged 18.8 points and 10.5 assists last season. He and New Orleans’ Chris Paul are the league’s top two young point guards. "They’re different players,” said Thunder guard Earl Watson. "Chris Paul is more like Isiah Thomas. Deron is bigger but quick for his size. His knowledge is unbelievable. He runs their system to a ‘T,’ almost to perfection. Chris Paul gets up and down the floor and is more creative.”
PINTO TAKES A BREAKThunder radio announcer Matt Pinto will miss the next couple of games as his wife are expecting a baby. Veteran play-by-play man Jim Durham will fill in. BY MIKE BALDWIN