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Feisty Thunder makes this a whole new series

Berry Tramel: With a make-my-day attitude, the Thunder frustrated Zach Randolph and Marc Gasol in Game 2
by Berry Tramel Published: May 4, 2011

The fouls kept mounting. Nine against the Thunder in the first quarter alone. Two more in the first three minutes of the second quarter.

Didn't set well with the Big Blue crowd. But somewhere behind that scowl, Kendrick Perkins was smiling.

“Be the instigator, not the retaliator,” Perk said. “You always gotta be the instigator.”

In a 111-102 victory over Memphis on Tuesday night, the Thunder went from passive to aggressive, from the bullied to the bullies, from the brink of elimination to a brand new series.

With a make-my-day attitude, the Thunder frustrated Zach Randolph and Marc Gasol, who were post monsters in Memphis' Game 1 victory.

Randolph and Gasol, who combined for 54 points on 21-of-33 shooting Sunday, had just 28 points on 5-of-22 shooting Tuesday night.

Perkins made Gasol look like the little brother that he is — Pau returned to No. 1 in the Gasol poll — and Nick Collison played 25 minutes of splendid defense on Randolph, who was beginning to develop a reputation as unstoppable.

Instead, Randolph was stopped cold. He made just two shots, and that Gran Torino attitude that Perkins brought from Boston filtered down to every Boomer.

In truth, it's an attitude Collison always has had.

“He brings that toughness every time down the court,” Thunder coach Scotty Brooks said. “He's a winner. He's all about making winning basketball plays.”

Second the motion, said Perkins.

“The key to the game was Nick Collison,” Perkins said. “The way he played was outstanding. Obviously, defense won the game for us.”

Strategy wasn't the key. Effort was. Effort and desire and attitude.

“They were just more aggressive,” said Memphis coach Lionel Hollins. “Classic case of the more desperate team. The desperate team usually wins. They came out and attacked.

We just didn't have enough fight in us.”

Now that the Thunder has found a tonic for Randolph, who through seven playoff games seemed to be carving himself a statue for Springfield, Mass., advantage OKC. For the Grizzlies have found no such remedy for Kevin Durant.

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by Berry Tramel
Berry Tramel, a lifelong Oklahoman, sports fan and newspaper reader, joined The Oklahoman in 1991 and has served as beat writer, assistant sports editor, sports editor and columnist. Tramel grew up reading four daily newspapers — The Oklahoman,...
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