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Follow the Sonics off and on the court with reporters Percy Allen and Jayda Evans.

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October 30, 2007

Starters set

Posted by Jayda Evans at 1:14 PM

Sonics guard Earl Watson said he's not into one-night stands, preferring to relate his nod to start at point guard to one of those brief Hollywood hook-ups he'd hear about as a star at UCLA.

Because projected starter Luke Ridnour fidgets with his facemask after every possession in practice and games since breaking his nose on Oct. 9 -- even after getting fitted for a new, smaller one on Monday -- coach P.J. Carlesimo is more comfortable with Watson running the team.

"It's not a marriage, it's not long term, it's just the way we're starting out until we get to that point where roles are settled and it's just basketball," Watson said. "There's a lot of things in the mix. For me, it's just basketball. I have to continue to play [and] help the team win more than anything."

Kevin Durant hasn't felt any lingering affects from practicing on his sprained left ankle, so he's slated to start at shooting guard with Delonte West as his backup. Sonics returnee Damien Wilkins will start at small forward while the formidable tandem of Chris Wilcox and Nick Collison start inside.

Rookie forward Jeff Green also looks strong in practice after suffering a sprained left ankle on Friday. He will rotate with veteran Wally Szczerbiak at small forward. Szczerbiak even said Green is strong enough to step into the power-forward role, too, when the team goes small.

Center Robert Swift didn't practice today because of his right knee and he's doubtful for the opening two games. Carlesimo said Phoenix's uptempo style isn't exactly the type game you "ease" a guy back into. Swift also has only had a half of practice in the past week.

Veteran Kurt Thomas suffered a right hamstring strain at practice and is a game-time decision for the opener in Denver. Carlesimo was thinking about starting Thomas to get him more minutes, but now it looks like he'll play off the bench.

The team finished their final session before the season opener by huddling up and shouting "DEFENSE!" An expected constant cry as the youthful Sonics head into regular-season play.

"That's the only way we're going to have a good year is if we become a really good defensive team," Collison said.

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