Add the three-time reigning NBA scoring champ among those not counting out Chicago star Derrick Rose.
Kevin Durant said the Bulls point guard, who mangled his knee in last year's playoffs, will soon be back and better than ever.
“I know he's going to get back stronger and better,” said Durant before the Thunder played the Bulls in Chicago on Tuesday night. “I've been praying for him, of course. And I've been watching the (workout) videos online, so I'm sure he's going to have a really, really nice comeback here for the Bulls and be at full strength.”
Durant said he expects Rose to benefit from a stringent workout regimen.
“I think he'll be better,” Durant said. “With all that weight training he's doing, strengthening his body and his core, he's doing everything he needs to do.”
Thunder guard Eric Maynor, who suffered through a similar knee injury last season, said his best piece of advice to Rose would be to remain patient and not rush back.
“It's going to be good days, it's going to be bad days,” Maynor said. “But you just got to keep working. Work throughout all of it.”
LIGGINS PLAYS THE UNITED CENTER
Chicago native DeAndre Liggins played inside the United Center for the first time Tuesday against the Bulls.
The third-year guard had been to the United Center during his two seasons with Orlando but didn't log minutes.
“It's going to be exciting to play in front of my family,” said Liggins, who estimated 10 relatives were in attendance, before the game.
Liggins spent time Monday night with his parents, sister and grandmother and got what he called “a home-cooked meal.”
Asked if it ever gets old returning to Chicago, Liggins said “Not at all, because it's not too many times I'll be able to come back home. This is one of the times. We get to come back Nov. 8 — if I'm still here.”
MOHAMMED MAKING AN IMPACT
After a two-year stint with the Thunder, center Nazr Mohammed joined Chicago to replace Omer Asik as the Bulls' backup center.
So far, Mohammed has impressed, and after averaging 8.4 points and 6.8 rebounds through five preseason games, both the Chicago Tribune and the Chicago Sun-Times dedicated articles on Tuesday to the former Thunder center. The Tribune's headline read “Lots in reserve.”
“He was a big part of our success,” Thunder coach Scott Brooks said. “That guy is a true professional. He works every day. I've been around players that work when the light is on. But he's always working and always putting in extra time. … He's somebody that you want your young players to be around. And he can still play. He had some good games for us.”
THANKS BUT NO THANKS
Chicago was named by 40 percent of NBA general managers to be the league's best defensive team, according to NBA.com's annual poll of the top executives from every team.
Bulls coach Tom Thibodeau, though, couldn't care less.
“Meaningless,” he said when asked about earning top billing.
Durant and Russell Westbrook got the night off Tuesday. Brooks said both will play Wednesday against Dallas in Wichita, Kan. … James Harden started at shooting guard, and Thabo Sefolosha started at small forward in place of Durant. Maynor replaced Westbrook. … Hasheem Thabeet played the primary minutes as the backup center against the Bulls and scored six points with 10 rebounds. … Cole Aldrich, Nick Collison, Daequan Cook, Daniel Orton and Hollis Thompson did not play against the Bulls.