“We have to push him off that area that he's very comfortable in,” Brooks said. “He's strong. We've got to just fight him better.”
Push him? Be strong? Fight better?
Sounds like a job for Kendrick Perkins.
Listen, I understand that Nene isn't a great matchup for Perkins, who moves like a locomotive first pulling out of the station. Get too physical with Nene, and he can hurt you with his quickness. Spin away. Create space. Dunk on your head.
But Perk has been doing this long enough to know how to toe the line. During Game 1, his level of physicality didn't even put him near the line. Sometimes, he was so far from the line that he couldn't even see it.
“Early in the game, I thought he gave up a basket or two he usually does not give up as easily,” Brooks said. “But late in the game, he made three big plays that were critical for us winning the game.”
Perkins blocked a Kenyon Martin shot as the Thunder were wresting the lead from the Nuggets for the first time. Then in the fourth quarter, he defender a screen and roll to perfection and made a switch on Danilo Gallinari that forced a turnover.
“He probably doesn't feel great about the way he played,” Brooks said, “but he made plays at the end of the game to help us win.”
Perkins said, “I had to do something to try to impact the game.”
Physical Perk worked down the stretch Sunday night. How about a little more of it in Game 2 and beyond?
I'm not convinced Nene can handle it. Skilled, he is. Tough, he is not.
Perkins is supposed to be the missing link in the middle. He is supposed to be the permanent fix for a franchise that has only had temporary solutions since moving to Oklahoma City. Nenad Krstic. Etan Thomas. Joe Smith. Steven Hill. Johan Petro. Robert Swift. Those guys were brought in simply to fill the gap.
Perkins was brought in to knock some skulls.
No better time than the present.