Durant Will Play, Singler And Harden Questionable
By Randy Renner, Senior Writer
Thunder superstar Kevin Durant was able to participate in the team's shootaround this morning and will play tonight against the Houston Rockets.
Durant told reporters his elbow is "fine" and he again will be in the starting lineup.
Kyle Singler remains questionable with a sore back and James Harden remains questionable with a sprained ankle. Harden participated in much of the Rockets shootaround at Chesapeake Energy Arena but when asked if he would be able to go tonight he told reporters "we'll see."
Harden is expected to warmup tonight at the arena and then consult with Houston's medical staff before a final decision is made.
Durant, named just yesterday as the NBA’s Player of the Week, only participated in a little of OKC’s practice Monday, “he did a little bit on the side,” Billy Donovan told reporters. “But in terms of the contact stuff we did, he didn’t do anything.”
KD had his right elbow encased in an ice wrap Monday but wasn't wearing anything on it during today's shootaround. He fell hard to the court in Saturday’s win at Indiana and stayed down for a few seconds. He went on to finish the game but has some soreness in the elbow.
“There’s nothing structurally wrong,” with the joint Donovan said Monday after being told the results of medical tests.
“It’s nothing too serious,” Donovan assured, “nothing that’s a major problem.”
Harden twisted his ankle in Saturday’s 109-97 loss at Atlanta. He was able to finish that game but also did not practice yesterday and is officially listed as questionable.
Rockets center Dwight Howard isn’t hurt but he might be tad embarrassed after the NBA ruled he was using an illegal sticky substance on his hands. Howard seemed surprised at the reaction of league officials and others.
“I don't know why people are making a big deal out of it,” he told the Houston Chronicle. “I do it every game. It's not a big deal.”
During the Rockets game with Atlanta Paul Milsap complained about how sticky the ball was when he was trying to shoot free throws and that’s what prompted a look into what was going on.
At yesterday’s Thunder practice center Steven Adams, who spends a lot of time guarding Howard when the two are on the floor together, said he’s never noticed the ball being sticky during a game with the Rockets and said he’s never used “Stickum” the product in question.
"No I haven't," Adams said. "Is that what he does? I don't know. Maybe that's why he misses free throws. Maybe? Because I find it really hard to shoot really grippy stuff, it just sticks to your hands."
The last time Howard and the Rockets were in OKC the big man was just 4-for-15 at the stripe which helped the Thunder get a win.
At the other end of the spectrum Harden and Durant are right next to each other in the NBA’s scoring race. Harden is 2nd averaging 28.6 points a game while Durant is 3rd at 28.0. Over his last 13 games Durant has been even better, scoring 29.5 points, while pulling down 10.0 rebounds and handing out 6.6 assists.
He's been outstanding against Houston, averaging 32.1 points while going 23-for-47 (48.9 percent) from 3-point range in his last seven games against the Rockets.
Harden has been at his best when he’s played against his old Thunder teammates, averaging 35.5 points over the last four games.
Russell Westbrook has had a tendency to steal the spotlight lately and he's is coming off his second straight triple-double Saturday with 14 points, 14 assists and 11 boards despite missing 13 of his 17 shots. His 14 triple-doubles are the most in an NBA season since Magic Johnson had 17 in 1988-89.
The superstar guard has already hit the Rockets for a triple-d this season. He had 26, 14 and 10 against them on January 29th when Durant scored 33 in that 116-108 Thunder win.
After dropping eight of their first 12 games coming out of the All-Star break the Thunder have now won four straight to get to 48-22 on the season and now have a four-and-a-half game lead over the LA Clippers for third place in the Western Conference.
The Rockets are sitting at 35-35 and are in a four-team fight for the last three playoff spots. Houston is in seventh place now but can get to sixth with a win or fall to eighth with a loss.
Tipoff is set for 7:10 and you can only see it on TNT. You can follow me on Twitter @RandyRenner for updates +from the arena later today.