Collins to meet Matthew Shepard's parents

DENVER -- Jason Collins said the media focus already has “peeled back” from his first two appearances with the Brooklyn Nets.

It has been widely accepted and, frankly, it's old news that the openly gay reserve center is amidst a 10-day deal with the Nets. But Collins’ trip to Denver on Thursday night has a bit of added significance.

After the game, Collins will meet with the parents of Matthew Shepard. In a widely publicized national story in 1998, Shepard was a University of Wyoming student who was murdered and presumably targeted because he was gay. It's among the reasons Collins wears No. 98. The Trevor Project, a national suicide hotline for gays, also was founded in 1998.

“It’s going to be very special meeting with them after the game,” Collins said. “I’m looking forward to it. ... I was in college at the time he was killed, and of course it was a tragedy. I just hope it inspires others to move forward.”

Collins said that he is “very honored” after hearing that Shepard’s father, Dennis, said the 7-footer is someone Matthew Shepard would have looked up to.

Thornton settling in: It has been a whirlwind for Marcus Thornton since the Nets acquired him from the Sacramento Kings in a deadline deal. He has endured a bout of food poisoning and hasn’t yet walked into his home arena as a member of his new squad.

The fourth-year shooting guard finally feels like a part of things after appearing in a game for the first time in the Nets’ lopsided loss at Portland on Wednesday. He scored nine points in 27 minutes, shooting 4-for-11 from the floor.

“I’m just trying to get my timing back and learn the plays,” Thornton said. “I’m going to be fine.”

Thornton first joined the Nets on Saturday at Golden State. He didn’t play in that game or the next day against the Los Angeles Lakers because of the food-poisoning spell. But he says it’s in the rearview mirror now.

“At shootaround and practice I feel more in tune,” he said. “Just getting back out there on the court and being able to walk around is a blessing. Once I chance to get a good feel, it will be all right.”

Thornton will make his home debut Monday against the Chicago Bulls.

KG to play: Nets forward Kevin Garnett typically doesn’t play in the second game of back-to-back sets, but after playing only 14 minutes in the 44-point shellacking at Portland, the veteran will be available Thursday night against the Denver Nuggets.

Coach Jason Kidd listed Garnett as his starting center, along with forwards Paul Pierce and Joe Johnson, and guards Shaun Livingston and Deron Williams.

Meanwhile, Nuggets forward Wilson Chandler will be sidelined with a day-to-day knee injury, meaning Denver will be without its top two scorers. Point guard Ty Lawson (18.0 scoring average) has been out since Feb. 8 with a left rib fracture.

Denver has lost six of seven with Lawson out of the lineup and has lost eight of nine overall.