Kendrick Perkins called it a playoff foul.
I have another term for the Thunder big man's knockdown, takedown foul on Wilson Chandler.
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.”
It made all the difference in the world. Only three nights after outscoring the Thunder by double figures on points in the paint, the Nuggets were outscored 30-28.
What's more, even though they had 30 shots in the paint, they hit only 14 of them.
That's a sign of some pretty stout interior defense.
That's something that starts with Perkins.
Sure, Collison and Serge Ibaka and Nazr Mohammed deserve credit, too, but Perkins is the ring leader. He's so defensive minded that unsolicited the other day, he started talking about how well James Harden played in Game 1. He raved about the defense that Harden played on J.R. Smith.
And here the rest of us thought Harden stunk up the joint by missing four of five shots and scoring only five points.
Perkins thinks defense first, second and third, and Wednesday, he played that way.
Nene went from looking like an All-Star to playing like just another center in the NBA. He scored 16 points, but he hit only 2 of 8 shots.
“I think we forced them into some tough shots,” Thunder swingman Kevin Durant said. “They missed a few easy ones, but I think we did a good job of closing the paint, putting Nene on the free throw line opposed to giving him dunks like he had in Game 1.”
Collison said: “Make them earn it at the line. It's just one more thing that they have to do.”
It started with Perkins' foul.
He was disappointed in himself after Game 1. He missed some defensive assignments. He let some things slip.
“Game 1, we were not satisfied — we're still not satisfied — but Game 1 wasn't our best win,” Perkins said. “Today was a good win, but it wasn't a great one in our eyes.”
With that, he may have already set the tone for Game 3.