Thunder starting center Kendrick Perkins suffered a right hip strain at the 4:09 mark of the first quarter on Saturday and did not return. Pending further evaluation, his status is day-to-day.
“We'll evaluate it tomorrow and see how he feels,” OKC coach Scott Brooks said after his team's 103-97 victory to clinch its first-round playoff series 4-0 against the defending world champion Dallas Mavericks.
Perkins' absence led to more playing time for Nazr Mohammed, who did not play the first two games of the series and had seen only five mop-up minutes at the end of Game 3. Due to matchup problems against Dallas, Mohammed played just two of five games in the Western Conference Finals against the Mavs last season and seven total minutes.
“This series was a tough series for him to get minutes,” Brooks said.
Mohammed started the second half, and the Mavs wound up outscoring OKC 34-21 in the period to take an 81-68 lead heading into the fourth quarter.
Mohammed left at the 7:46 mark of the third period and did not return. He finished with four points, two rebounds, two turnovers, four fouls and was 2 for 3 from the field.
Roughly 1,500 Thunder fans made their presence known at Game 4 on Saturday night at American Airlines Center, with many lingering outside the arena 2 1/2 hours before tipoff.
During pregame introductions before Game 3, Thunder starters — particularly Kevin Durant and Russell Westbrook — were greeted with resounding boos. But on Saturday, cheers easily overwhelmed boos, and it continued throughout the game.
During a game delay with 38.8 seconds remaining and OKC leading 100-95, Thunder fans began a chant of “O-K-C.” After about 30 seconds, Dallas fans mustered enough volume to drown out the visitors’ chant with “Let's go Mavs.”
GIMME A HUG
In a series that featured some combative words, pushing, shoving and posturing, all seemed forgiven when the final buzzer sounded.
Dallas forward Dirk Nowitzki sought out as many Thunder players as he could find on the court afterward, offering congratulations and pats on the back.
Mavs coach Rick Carlisle and Thunder coach Scott Brooks opened their postgame remarks with glowing remarks about the opposing team.
SIGN HIM, SAM
Carlisle also complimented Thunder general manager Sam Presti on his work, but sent out a warning.
“Scott Brooks (is) one of the best coaches in the game,” Carlisle said. “I hope Sam's got enough money to sign him, because he's going to be in high demand if they don't get that done.