Kendrick Perkins has looked himself in the proverbial mirror.
Mired in one of the worst statistical seasons of his career through the first third of this year, Perkins admitted Monday that he hasn't played up to expectations.
“I'm struggling,” Perkins said.
Perkins ranks third on the Thunder in rebounding. But at 5.4 per game, he's pulling down his least amount of boards since he averaged 5.2 during the 2006-07 season. Perkins' 11.6 percent rebound rate (the percentage of total missed shots a player rebounds) is the worst of his career. Only four centers who have logged enough games and minutes to qualify have a lower rebound rate.
In 23 games going into Monday's at Portland, Perkins had pulled down fewer than five rebounds eight times.
“I just got to play better,” Perkins said. “It's not just the rebounding. My points are down. I'm usually one of the league leaders in field-goal percentage. I just got to play better. It's nothing else to it. I just got to play better.”
Perkins is shooting a career-low 45.3 percent from the field. Last year, despite not being close to 100 percent as he recovered from knee injuries, Perkins shot 49.3 percent in 17 games with the Thunder. He shot 54.2 percent in 12 games with Boston. At 4.6 points per game, Perkins is averaging his least amount of points since he average 4.5 in 2006-07.
“I don't know whether it's my focus or what. But it's on me,” Perkins said. “I really don't care about the points. But I do worry about picking up my field-goal percentage and my rebounding. I at least need to be at eight a game. So that's unacceptable.”
Perkins said he gets frustrated just like fans when he looks at the final stat sheet and sees he's pulled down just one or three rebounds, which happened in the team's previous two games against Memphis and San Antonio. Perkins, however, said he's unsure of how to regain his productivity of yesteryear. For now, Perkins said he's just trying to find ways to continue impacting games while he's struggling.
“The thing is, I never have been in a slump,” Perkins said. “This is my first time being in a slump. I just got to find my way. I figure the only thing I can do is go up from here, though.”
COOK IMPRESSING DEFENSIVELY
Guard Daequan Cook has stood out since being inserted into the starting lineup.
But, surprisingly, he's done it by excelling on the defensive end, not offensively.
Before Monday's game at Portland, Cook was averaging 7.7 points, five rebounds and 1.66 blocks in three games while filling in for customary starter Thabo Sefolosha, who is sidelined with a foot injury.
Cook's defensive play of late has appeared to be much better than it was when he arrived in Oklahoma City at the start of last season.
“I just think he's developing as a player,” said Thunder coach Scott Brooks. “He's still a young player. He still should get better. We take a lot of pride in making our players better like the rest of the league does. But Daequan has really embraced being a defender and not just a jump shooter…He wants to be thought of as a good basketball player, not just a good shooter.”
DURANT LIKES TRIPS TO THE NORTHWEST
Kevin Durant said he enjoys trips to Portland to face the Blazers inside the Rose Garden. The raucous atmosphere is one reason, but Durant also became familiar with the team back when he was going through the draft process in 2007.
“Just knowing that I could have been here, for one; coming here during the draft process and meeting everybody over there in that organization and working out here, I have a small bit of history with this team,” Durant said. “So it feels good to come in here and play because they're fans of basketball and they always come out and show support to their team, especially when we come since we were the Sonics before.”
Durant reiterated that he doesn't hold it against the Blazers for selecting Greg Oden with the No. 1 pick, one spot ahead of him, in the 2007 NBA Draft.
“They made the best decision for their team,” Durant said.
Durant, who will forever be linked to Oden, said he hasn't spoken to the injury-plagued center but has prayed he gets well soon.
Brooks said before the game that there is no timetable on Sefolosha's return. “We'll have Thabo soon,” Brooks said. “I don't know when, but we'll have him soon.”…The Thunder recalled forward Ryan Reid from the Tulsa 66ers. Reid was sent down on Jan. 16 and averaged 11.3 points, 7.3 rebounds, 1.5 assists and 1.1 blocks in 30.6 minutes over eight games. …Blazers starting point guard Raymond Felton did not play Monday because of a sprained left foot. Jamal Crawford started in his place. …As has been the case since the Thunder came to Oklahoma City in 2008, many fans attended the Blazers game wearing Sonics paraphernalia. A small group sat directly behind the team's bench decked out in Sonics gear with signs and banners.
Brooks on Portland forward LaMarcus Aldridge — “LaMarcus is an All-Star. I think this is the year he gets it. I thought the last couple of years he's been All-Star like. I did vote for him. I think he's earned it. The team's playing well, and he's leading them every night.”
The Thunder will face Golden State on Tuesday night. It will be the second time the two teams have squared off, with the Thunder winning 120-109 in the first meeting. Tip-off is scheduled for 9:30 Oklahoma time.