Thunder lose two more to injury

OKLAHOMA CITY -- Already undermanned without Kevin Durant, Thunder coach Scott Brooks said at practice Tuesday that guards Reggie Jackson and Jeremy Lamb wouldn't travel for the team's opening two games, against the Portland Trail Blazers on Wednesday and Los Angeles Clippers on Thursday.

Both were injured at practice on Monday, with Jackson spraining his right ankle and Lamb tweaking his back. Brooks said they will be evaluated when the team returns to Oklahoma City later in the week.

The two guards join a long list of injured Thunder players. The team will take only nine healthy players to Portland and Los Angeles. The Thunder will be missing Durant (foot), Mitch McGary (foot), Anthony Morrow (strained MCL), Grant Jerrett (ankle), Jackson and Lamb.

"Never seen anything like it," Brooks said Monday of the injuries. "But like I say all along, it's part of the game. It's things you can't control. The only thing you can control is to continue to prepare on how we play and that's what we'll do."

Brooks did reveal his starting five for Wednesday's opener, saying Russell Westbrook, Andre Roberson, Perry Jones, Serge Ibaka and Steven Adams will get the nod at tipoff.

Adams takes over at center for Kendrick Perkins, who didn't play in the preseason while recovering from a strained quad. The second-year Thunder big man flashed signs of brilliance in the exhibition games, averaging 12.7 points on 39-of-59 shooting (66.1 percent) with 6.8 rebounds in 25.7 minutes per game.

"I don't look at it how hard [a decision] it is," Brooks said of picking Adams over Perkins. "Both Steven and Perk are a big part of what we do. Perk has been a huge part of our success. Before we had him we were a very good, athletic team and he brought a component that's very critical to every team's success and that's toughness. I've never looked at Perk's stats as a barometer if he's played well or not. He's been a winner for a long time in this league."

Despite heavy amounts of criticism, Perkins has held the position for the Thunder since being acquired from Boston at the trade deadline in 2011. The emerging Adams dug into Perkins' minutes pretty heavily last season, as his minutes dipped to 19.5 a game, the fewest since the 2004-05 season.

"I started all the games last year that I played in and didn't play in nearly as much of the fourth quarters as I wanted to play in," Perkins said. "So that really was my goal coming in to this year was, I want to give Coach a reason he should have me in in the fourth. I started last year and a lot of games, I was unhappy because I didn't play the fourth quarter, probably because I didn't deserve to play. So I want to give him a reason why I should play in the fourth."

Brooks said Adams and Perkins will share the minutes at center, which might be necessary considering Adams' issues with fouling. He fouled out of two preseason games and averaged 6.1 fouls per 36 minutes last season.

"I have to be much smarter about fouling," Adams said, according to The Oklahoman. "It's really hard to find the balance between being physical and trying not to foul. I just go up to the refs, most of the refs are good, actually all of them. They'll warn me first: 'Ah, cut that out, don't do this, don't bite them,' stuff like that. I guess I'll get in a lot of foul trouble anyway, that's what I'm thinking. Just because I play a bit rough."