Hugo High School junior Trey Johnson, who scored the winning basket for the opposing team Thursday night in a Class 3A boys state basketball tournament game, was a guest of the Thunder and watched OKC defeat the Boston Celtics 91-79 at Chesapeake Energy Arena on Sunday afternoon.
Roughly 2½ hours before the noon tip, Johnson met several Thunder players during their pregame warm-up sessions on the court an hour before the arena doors opened. During the game, Johnson sat courtside with Thunder owners along the baseline near the OKC bench.
Johnson received various gifts, including a shoe autographed by Kevin Durant and the shoes Russell Westbrook wore during Sunday's game that also were autographed.
Johnson was accompanied by his coach Darnell Shanklin and starting point guard Nick Brown.
Former Thunder forward Jeff Green received a warm, albeit brief, ovation when he entered the game with 5:06 left in the first quarter. It was Green's first appearance in OKC since he and center Nenad Krstic were traded to Boston in exchange for Kendrick Perkins and Nate Robinson on Feb. 24, 2011.
Green finished with eight points, which included an authoritative dunk on a baseline drive. He shot 2 for 11 from the field, had three rebounds and three turnovers in 28 minutes of play.
“My first time (back), nerves were there, but at the end of the day, I want to win the game,” Green said. “I wasn't really thinking too much about anything else. Feels good to just get it over with.”
The game's most light-hearted moment came when Boston reserve guard and former Dallas Mavericks standout Jason Terry entered the game with 5:19 left in the first quarter and the crowd reacted with a loud chorus of boos when he was introduced.
Terry immediately smiled, shrugged his shoulders with both palms up as if to say “Hey, what did I do?” Terry's reaction immediately drew laughter from the sellout crowd of 18,203.
“Just so many battles when I played these guys with Dallas, and they just don't forget,” Terry said. “I'm just so glad Oklahoma has a team. They have great fans and you realize it every time you come into the building. Whether it's the owner courtside, or the fan in the 30th row, it's all in fun and competition. It's just a great environment.”
Perkins often matched up against his mentor in Celtics center Kevin Garnett, who had 10 points and 11 rebounds, but shot just 5 for 19 from the field.
“Well, Perk took on the challenge,” teammate Kevin Durant said of defending Garnett. “That's his mentor, the guy he learned a lot from and the guy he looked up to and he took the challenge by making him shoot tough 2's. KG makes a lot of those and some of those shots he normally makes he missed tonight. Tonight, it was a combination of Perk doing a great job of contesting.”
PROUD OF PERK
A message from Celtics coach Doc Rivers to Thunder fans constantly critical of Perkins:
“They (OKC) needed a voice. Perk's numbers will never coincide with his productivity. A lot of times you'll look at his numbers and say, ‘What does he do?' Well, I can tell you, a lot. He's a great player to have on your team when you have great players on your team, because he knows what to tell them and he backs them up. It's good to have an instigator and Perk's strongly in the instigator category, and that's why I love him.”
The Thunder game Sunday against Boston started extra early. Not only was it a noon start because being nationally televised on ABC, it came the same day one hour was lost due to daylight savings.
Thunder home games not nationally televised on Sunday normally tip off at 6 p.m. A poll was conducted on NewsOK.com during Sunday's game as to when Thunder fans would prefer the games be held.
As of 9 p.m., here were the results:
Would you be in favor of the Thunder playing afternoon games on Sunday rather than at night?
Yes - 79.26 percent; No - 20.74 percent
At what time would you prefer the Thunder start its regularly scheduled games on Sunday?
2:30 p.m. - 59.67 percent; Noon - 23.26 percent; 6 p.m. - 17.07 percent
If game times on Sundays are to change in future Thunder schedules, that decision will have to come from the NBA. The Thunder can request dates for games, but game times are set by the league.
The Thunder is now 16-7 (.696) this season against Eastern Conference teams and 8-3 at home against the East. … OKC is 28-4 at home this season, 9-3 on Sundays, 5-1 in March, 9-2 on the first game of a back-to-back and 5-5 all-time against the Celtics. … The Thunder is 15-0 when its opponent shoots less than 40 percent, 12-1 when the opponent scores less than 90 points, 20-3 when its bench outscores the opposing bench and 34-3 when it has more assists.
Rivers on how to defend Durant: “You pray. You do. I'm serious. You try to attack him. I thought that's what we did the first game (when Durant scored 29). I'm a defensive guy and I've given up trying to figure out how to stop them, and I'm not kidding. I don't know if there is a way, besides attacking him and being physical with him offensively and trying to get him on his heels.”