This series moves to Memphis with the Thunder buoyed by the knowledge that it has stood up to Randolph, while Durant still flies high.
“The first three quarters, we played as well as anybody can play on Zac,” Brooks said.
Randolph scored eight points in the fourth quarter, all of them when the game was decided. Randolph scored 11 of his 15 points on foul shots, but those points came at a price.
All those early fouls delivered the message. No easy baskets. Not on this night. Maybe not the rest of the series.
Perkins said the Thunder had a few intense meetings since that Game 1 embarrassment.
“We came out and competed,” Perkins said. “Guys understand it's the playoffs. It's not about your numbers, it's not about your stats. It's about competing.
“We just competed tonight. We played ‘em hard. The first night, we let ‘em get comfortable. We played great team defense tonight.”
Perkins stayed on Gasol no matter where the 7-footer went. No uncontested shots or passes for Gasol.
Collison, mostly, and Serge Ibaka put a body on Randolph and tried to shove him farther outside. It mostly worked.
“Nick did what he do,” Perkins said. “He frustrated Randolph. Played great defense on him.”
The Thunder didn't change much strategy. Oh, they ran an extra defender at Randolph a few times and even Gasol. But mostly they instigated rather than reacted.
And now we've got a series on our hands.
Berry Tramel: Berry can be reached at (405) 760-8080 or at email@example.com. He can be heard Monday through Friday from 4:40-5:20 p.m. on The Sports Animal radio network, including AM-640 and FM-98.1. You can also view his personality page at newsok.com/berrytramel.