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News » Sefolosha makes instant impact with Thunder

Sefolosha makes instant impact with Thunder

Sefolosha makes instant impact with Thunder
OKLAHOMA CITY (AP) - Thabo Sefolosha made an impact in his first practice with the Oklahoma City Thunder, right above Earl Watson's eye.

One of two players acquired by the Thunder at the trade deadline, Sefolosha split open the area around Watson's right eyebrow with an elbow as he drove to the basket during practice Monday. Watson had to leave the court and get three stitches before returning in a grey hooded sweatshirt and a bandage over his eyebrow.

"Just like a little welcome, like, 'I'm out here,"' Sefolosha said jokingly.

Sefolosha was picked up last Thursday in a trade that sent a first-round draft pick to the Chicago Bulls. Oklahoma City also made a deadline deal getting forward Malik Rose from New York in exchange for forward Chris Wilcox.

Sefolosha made his debut Saturday night in a loss at Golden State before even going through a practice. He went scoreless and picked up five fouls in 18 minutes.

"I guess he was letting us know that his five fouls the other night wasn't a fluke," said Rose, who was in uniform but didn't play against Golden State.

The Thunder envision Sefolosha improving their perimeter defense, and his arrival couldn't come at a better time. Oklahoma City gave up 273 points in losses to the Warriors and Suns on their recent western swing.

"He's a defender. We like what he's going to bring to our team," Thunder coach Scott Brooks said. "He's a long, athletic wing player that thinks defense, and we need that. We're looking forward to him getting acclimated as quickly as possible."

Rookie Kyle Weaver has picked up most of the slack in the backcourt since starter Desmond Mason was knocked out for the rest of the season with a hyperextended knee that required surgery. Sefolosha, who had lost his starting job with the Bulls after a slow start to the season, is averaging 4.4 points and 2.8 rebounds this season.

"Offensively, he is improving. It's not one of his strengths early on in his career, but we see something that's going to get better," Brooks said. "He works at it. He just needs some confidence and consistent playing time, and he's going to get that. He's going to earn those minutes, just the way he plays and he practices."

Sefolosha immediately found himself getting important minutes in his Oklahoma City debut, and hopes he can show he's deserving of a bigger role with the Thunder.

"It's my first time getting traded and everything, but it feels pretty good to be here," Sefolosha said. "I wasn't getting a lot of playing time in Chicago, so hopefully here I can improve and get on the floor a little more."

Rose, who had been a part of two NBA championship teams in San Antonio and was traded off the team that won the 2005 title, had found himself almost completely left out of the Knicks' rotation. He had played in only three games since late December.

"It's very tough, but I'm not the first person to go through it and I'm not going to be the last person to go through it," Rose said. "If it's my job to go out on the court and play and contribute, great. If my job is to stay ready off the court and push myself and just stay sharp and hoping for my opportunity to come, then I'll do that."

Brooks approached Rose before practice Monday and told him he was looking for the 13-year NBA veteran to provide three things: leadership, professionalism and strong communication with the Thunder's young core.

"Our young guys listen, they want to get better, and they will value Malik's experiences," Brooks said. "He's played with good teams, bad teams, young teams, old teams. He's seen it all. It's important for him to share those experiences with them."

Author: Fox Sports
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Added: February 24, 2009


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