Thunder Holds Short Practice, Heads to Atlanta

The Thunder held a short practice Thursday morning before heading to the airport for its afternoon flight to Atlanta for Friday night’s game vs. the Hawks. With a sprained left ankle, Kevin Durant did not practice, except for free throws.

“I feel good today, better than I thought I would,” he said. “We’ll just have to see what happens tomorrow.”

Durant said the ankle didn’t swell up on him overnight and he was encouraged by that.

“Yeah, that’s a good sign, so I should be all right,” he said. The Thunder lists Durant as doubtful for Friday night.

The Thunder is coming off one of one of its most impressive wins of the season, dominating Indiana at both ends of the floor. The Thunder also showed a better ability to use back-door cuts than it has in the past with James Harden usually the player getting open along the baseline for easy points.

“We’ve been working on that the last six weeks or so,” Thunder Head Coach Scott Brooks said. “It’s been kind of creeping in more and more the last few games. James has a good feel for doing that and Russell and our bigs are good passers. I thought last night was probably our best back-door cutting game.”

Brooks also continues to be impressed with the play of Nazr Mohammed.

“I just finished looking at the film again this morning and I thought Naz did a very good job and I kind of expected that,” Brooks said. “He’s very consistent in his approach and he has a calm influence on the teams he’s been with. And Serge (Ibaka) was really good protecting the basket, not only with the six blocks that he had but he altered many more (shots).”

Ibaka and Mohammed will have their hands full Friday night with Atlanta’s Al Horford, who’s coming off a 31-point, 16-rebound effort Wednesday night in the Hawks’ 83-80 win over Chicago.

“That was an interesting game,” Brooks said. “They were down 14-0, then down by 19 late in the second quarter and came back to win the game. That’s NBA basketball, a 20-point lead can disappear pretty quick if somebody has a hot hand. So tomorrow night and every night from here on out actually is going to be a big test for us but our guys always step up to the challenge.”

The Thunder beat the Hawks, 103-94, on New Year’s Eve in Oklahoma City. The Hawks have won three of their last four games, but have lost three in a row to the Thunder.

Tip-off is set for 6:30 p.m. Central Friday night from Philips Arena in Atlanta. You can see the game on Fox Sports Oklahoma and listen to it on the Thunder Radio Network.