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If Kendrick Perkins is gone, what has the OKC Thunder got?

The Thunder's center did not practice Tuesday. And the team's championship hopes are riding on the health of his ailing hip.
by Darnell Mayberry Published: May 8, 2012

To understand how much of a difference-maker Perkins can be, look no further than the last regular-season matchup between the Thunder and Lakers. In that contest, Perkins was so good he took Bynum completely out of the game — literally. Lakers coach Mike Brown benched an ineffective Bynum in favor of Jordan Hill. Bynum scored just 10 points on 5-of-15 shooting with eight rebounds and five blocks in 29 minutes. Bynum scored just six points on 3-of-8 shooting against Perkins.

But if Perkins must miss a game or two, Oklahoma City still should be able to compete with confidence. Two years ago, long before Perkins was anywhere near OKC's radar, the Thunder had marginal success against the Lakers in the postseason. Oklahoma City eventually lost the series 4-2 but came within a Pau Gasol tip-in of forcing a Game 7.

Bynum averaged only 12 points, nine rebounds and 2.3 blocks in 30 minutes per game.

Could that history of success come in handy again?

“That's a good question,” Brooks said. “I haven't thought of it that way. We're so different and they're a different team. We feel like we can have success against whoever we play as long as we continue to work and do the things that make us successful offensively and defensively.”

The good news for the Thunder is, as a team, it has gotten bigger and better, stronger and faster since that Lakers series.

But so has Bynum.

After averaging 18.7 points and 11.8 rebounds in the regular season, both career-highs, Bynum has averaged 18.5 points, 10.3 rebounds and 4.25 blocks in 38 minutes through four playoff games.

The Thunder can lean on reserve centers Nazr Mohammed and Cole Aldrich a bit against Bynum, and power forwards Serge Ibaka and Nick Collison each can play center as well.

“We have guys that are capable of playing good minutes for us and putting us in good positions to continue to have success,” Brooks said. “We're not going down that road yet until we have to. But they worked all year to be ready and if it happens they will be ready. We'll find ways to continue to have success.”

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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