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Kendrick Perkins Plays, Thunder Waxes Wizards

by Darnell Mayberry Modified: April 12, 2013 at 5:56 pm •  Published: March 14, 2011

Nuggets from my notebook from Monday’s 116-89 win at Washington.

  • Kendrick Perkins made his debut tonight and looked legit. He’ll never be the type that puts up eye-popping numbers. But his impact was immediate. His reputation as a pesky post defender is real. The Thunder didn’t have to help Perkins on the block, which allowed the perimeter players to stay home on shooters. The Wizards (although not a very good 3-point shooting team) went 0-for-9 from 3. Perkins either made his man’s shot tougher or forced him into a second defender, generally Serge Ibaka, who finished with a career-high eight rejections.
  • Perkins played just 20 minutes, mostly because the Thunder led by 25 through three quarters, but said he was fine after the game. He told me his conditioning surprised him and he was pleased with his debut.
  • The tandem of Perkins and Ibaka is every bit as good as we thought it could be. And there is a lot of room for growth there. Granted, it’s only one game against the Wizards. But the makings of a fantastic frontcourt was on display tonight. Perkins’ low-post defense coupled with Ibaka’s shot-blocking is going to give a lot of teams trouble. That duo will have a lot to learn together, but the resistance at the rim just got 120 times better.
  • There was a play midway through the third that Nick Young beat Thabo Sefolosha off the dribble and Ibaka and Perkins both stepped up and tried to block the shot at the basket. I could only shake my head in disbelief at what the Thunder now has back there.
  • Ibaka has 15 blocks in his past two games. That’s unbelievable. I think I remember a bunch of talk about how the Thunder needed a big man.
  • Ibaka’s 15 blocks in two games are the franchise’s most by a single player since Alton Lister registered 16 in March of 1989. Lister had other less than stellar moments.
  • With tonight’s win, the Thunder has now beaten its past six sub .500 teams by an average of 22.3 points.
  • The alley-oop dunk from Russell Westbrook to Kevin Durant with 8:24 left in the third looked like what teams used to do to the Thunder when it was OKC losing by 20 each night two years ago. At that moment, you had to feel bad for the Wizards. That dunk put the Thunder up 77-54 and became the moment everyone knew Washington could do a thing to stop the Thunder.
  • Thunder coach Scott Brooks gave us our first glimpse of how he’ll use his big men with Perkins in the lineup. He subbed in Nick Collison as the first big off the bench with 5:07 left in the first, inserting him for Perkins. Two minutes later, Nazr Mohammed came in for Ibaka. Perkins then returned with 6:28 left in the second quarter. Ibaka came back about a minute later. Neither was in foul trouble in the first half, so this looks to be about how Brooks plans to use them.
  • But Brooks did tell me this: “They’ll all have a lot of opportunity to play together. They’re interchangeable parts. I haven’t figured out, until I see them play, who plays better with each other. But I have a feeling that they all complement each other fairly well.”
  • As expected, Cole Aldrich will now take a backseat, Brooks confirmed. “Cole’s actually done well when he’s had his time,” Brooks said. “We’re happy with his progress, but right now he’s probably going to have to take the backseat.”
  • Perkins, a 60 percent foul shooter, made a pair of freebies midway through the third quarter. Something to watch going forward. I’ve seen Perkins drill foul shots in the Thunder’s customary post-practice free throw game. But if he picks up his percentage in the games, look out. Suddenly we could see an eight- to 10-point scorer evolve into a 12- to 14-point scorer.
  • Lobs to McGee just ain’t fair. That cat can go up and grab anything.
  • Is Scotty cracking? Is he going to a 10-man rotation? He did tonight. A full five-man second unit consisted of Eric Maynor, James Harden, Daequan Cook, Collison and Mohammed.
  • Brooks played Perkins and Mohammed together during  a stretch tonight. Never thought I’d see that.
  • If Cook keeps on shooting the way he did tonight, there is no reason Brooks shouldn’t leave him in there as the 10th man in a 10-man rotation.
  • Perkins showed a nice jump hook over McGee late in the first half. I really think his offense might be something worth watching. With the Celtics, he didn’t have to be a threat and wasn’t in a position where his offense needed to be developed. Here, Perkins has room to grow. Clearly Perkins’ value is on the defensive end. But if I’m the coaching staff, I’m dumping it in to him and letting him expand his game.
  • I hope everyone saw Perkins’ hard foul on McGee. That was the kind of toughness and tenacity everyone’s been talking about him bringing. It was almost flagrant worthy. Perkins delivered a shot, albeit unintentional, to McGee’s head. But you’ve got to love the physicality. Perkins won’t be a push-over.
  • The Thunder had 30 assists tonight, one shy of its season high. With 3:25 left in the third, the Thunder had 24 assists and eight turnovers. That’s a better indication of how well OKC took care of the ball and shared it than the final 30-to-19 ratio, the final being an intentional shot clock violation.
  • Oh yeah, Durant and Westbrook were fantastic. KD had 32 points in 29 minutes. Westbrook had 18 points and 12 assists in 26 minutes for his 31st double-double. Not often those two will get overshadowed. Congratulations, Kendrick Perkins.

-DM-

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by Darnell Mayberry
OKC Thunder Senior Reporter
Darnell Mayberry grew up in Langston, Okla. and is now in his third stint in the Sooner state. After a year and a half at Bishop McGuinness High, he finished his prep years in Falls Church, Va., before graduating from Norfolk State University in...
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