Jenni Carlson: Things are about to heat up for the Thunder

by Jenni Carlson Published: April 6, 2011

Remember, if the first-round matchups play out as expected, it will be Thunder vs. Nuggets.

Perhaps you saw the sparring that went on Tuesday night between them. Everyone was getting after it, but the main event was Perkins and Nene going forehead-to-forehead. Both drew technicals, but the fact that it didn't go any further is lucky.

“That would've been ugly,” said Thunder coach Scott Brooks, who also coached Nene for several years as an assistant. “That wouldn't have been a good thing to watch. I'm glad that nothing happened.”

To think, Nene isn't even the Nuggets' resident enforcer. That tough-guy role falls to Kenyon Martin, who let Lakers' fans hear about it when he scored a victory-securing putback last weekend.

Think this playoffs series is going to be intense?

The Thunder played with an edge last season in the playoffs when it pushed the Lakers to six games, but already, this team has a different vibe.

Credit Perkins.

“He's a tough guy who's not a sometimes tough guy,” Brooks said. “That's the way he is. He just believes in that style of play.

“It's very authentic.”

Perkins even shows up for games with a seriousness that the Thunder hasn't had since moving to town. You almost get the feeling that the rest of the guys in the locker room don't quite know what to make of him.

A week or so ago, I was interviewing Eric Maynor before a game when Perkins arrived. The big man looked so serious, so stone-faced that the reserve guard stopped mid-sentence.

“Perk,” Maynor said, “you OK?”

He was all right. He was just dandy. He was in game mode.

Imagine how he's going to be for a playoff game.

Yikes.

This isn't the nice-guy Thunder anymore. You can see it. You can sense it. You can even hear it.

Be sure to bring those ear plugs.

Darnell Mayberry's blog

by Jenni Carlson
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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