By Randy Renner
The Thunder are finally getting some of their injured guys back, Andre Roberson got back on the court the other night against the Spurs and forward Nick Collison is hoping to come back tonight against the Sacramento Kings.
Every addition helps and if Collison can go tonight he will help stabilize the forward/center position that's been so undermanned lately.
Serge Ibaka, the biggest difference maker the Thunder still hope to get back before it's too late, will not play tonight but hope remains he could return in time for an opening round playoff series against Golden State.
The Thunder have to make it that far first.
OKC has four games left on the schedule, two at home and two on the road, just like the New Orleans Pelicans.
The teams are tied in the standings for the eighth and final spot in the Western Conference playoffs, but the Pelicans have the tiebreaker.
New Orleans hosts Phoenix tonight while the Thunder are at home against the Sacramento Kings.
The Thunder have stumbled lately, losing four straight and six of their last seven but they've beaten the Kings 11 straight times inside Chesapeake Energy Arena.
So they should like their chances of regrouping against the Kings, whom they have outscored by an average of 13.0 points during that11-game home winning streak. Oklahoma City had taken 12 straight in the series overall before falling 104-83 in Sacramento back in January.
Thunder superstar point guard Russell Westbrook was held to 10 points on a season-worst 3 of 19 from the floor that night while Rudy Gay and DeMarcus Cousins scored a combined 51 for Sacramento.
Neither one of those guys may be available for them tonight though.
Gay has missed four of the last five games due to a concussion while Cousins sat out the last two with a foot injury. The Kings aren't likely to get much sympathy from the Thunder, who continue to play without reigning MVP Kevin Durant (foot surgery) and Ibaka (knee surgery).
"No matter how you slice it, it's not a fair fight," Spurs coach Gregg Popovich said Tuesday night after his Spurs clobbered the short-handed Thunder. "You feel badly. You see Kevin in that chair out there and the other guys that are hurt and it's not a fair fight."
The Kings (27-51) are coming off their sixth loss in seven games, 103-91 at Utah on Wednesday. Coach George Karl was forced to go with Omri Casspi, Carl Landry, Jason Thompson, Ben McLemore and Ray McCallum as his starting unit with Darren Collison (core muscle), Nik Stauskas (back) and Erick Moreland (shoulder) also out in addition to Cousins and Gay.
"I always compare it to my CBA days," Karl said. "Where you lose a guy to Europe, then another guy gets hurt, then another guy gets called up to the NBA. Your whole personality of your team changes. Our job is to figure out how to piece and put the puzzle together in a way ... every NBA team has a lot of talent on it. Sometimes the talent that doesn't play just needs the opportunity to play."
The opportunities for both teams will come again tonight with a 7:10 tipoff inside The Peake.