With 10:14 left in the third quarter of Game 1 on Monday night, starting center Kendrick Perkins re-injured his right hip muscle strain while attempting an open two-handed dunk in the Thunder's 119-90 victory against the Los Angeles Lakers.
A hobbled Perkins left the game at the 10:04 mark and was taken to the locker room. With 4:13 left in the third period, Perkins returned to the bench, but did not return to the game.
“He was ready to play, but we didn't need him at that time,” OKC coach Scott Brooks said afterward. “He'll get some treatment and we'll see how he feels (Tuesday).”
After spending nine days officially listed as “day-to-day,” Perkins returns to that same status heading into Game 2 on Wednesday at 8:30 p.m. at The Peake.
It wasn't publicly known until 90 minutes before tipoff that Perkins would start against the Lakers, but the news came as no surprise to LA coach Mike Brown.
“We figured he was starting,” Brown said. “He's a tough guy … and he had 15 (actually nine) days of rest.”
Whether Perkins’ presence was assumed or presumed by either team, his availability is vital to the Thunder.
Brooks repeatedly has stated Perkins is one of the league's premier one-on-one, low-post defenders.
Brown threw in his two cents when asked the difference in OKC's attitude and physicality without Perkins.
“They're still a very talented team without him, but I think he brings both those things to them when you talk about attitude and physicality,” Brown said. “Those two things are huge for that team.”