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Jenni Carlson: Perk takes back ownership of the paint

by Jenni Carlson Published: April 20, 2011

Kendrick Perkins called it a playoff foul.

I have another term for the Thunder big man's knockdown, takedown foul on Wilson Chandler.

Game changer.

On a night when the Thunder throttled the Nuggets 106-89 and took a commanding two-game lead in this Western Conference series, no play was more telling than Perkins' play on Chandler. Yes, he was called for a flagrant foul. Sure, it came in the first couple minutes of the game. Yes, the Denver swingman made both of the free throws.

But that foul was a tone-setter.

Perk let the Nuggets know that he intended to make every basket difficult, that Game 2 wasn't going to be like Game 1.

“He brings a physical attitude every time,” Thunder coach Scott Brooks said. “It's who he is. He does it in practice, he does it during the shootaround, and he does it during the game.

“I'm sure when he takes his kids to school he has an attitude.”

Maybe so, but Perkins wasn't at his tough-guy best in Game 1. The Nuggets dominated the paint, Perk's paint.

“We were missing the physicality,” Perkins said. “I thought they brought it to us the first game.

“My job is to be an enforcer in the right way.”

Wednesday, we saw why the Thunder made that midseason trade for Perkins, why it split up its talented nucleus to bring in the big fella. He set the tone for a defense that had one of its best performances of the season.

The Thunder allowed the Nuggets only 15 points in the first quarter. Sunday night, the Nuggets scored more that in the first five minutes of the game.

When all was said and done Wednesday night, the Nuggets had shot only 39.1 percent.

“We were really sharp the whole night,” Thunder reserve Nick Collison said. “First game, I don't know if it was playoff jitters or what, we just forgot our game plan. Tonight, we followed that a lot better.”

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by Jenni Carlson
Reporter and Columnist
Jenni Carlson, a sports columnist at The Oklahoman since 1999, came by her love of sports honestly. She grew up in a sports-loving family in Kansas. Her dad coached baseball and did color commentary on the radio for the high school football...
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