Kendrick Perkins turned and glared at TNT's broadcast table.
Apparently, the Thunder big fella had heard about the less-than-complimentary things the network announcers had said about his pick-and-roll defense in these Western Conference Finals. And apparently, he didn't like it.
After at least two first-half defensive stops aided by his play, Perkins stared down the broadcast crew.
“Talk about that,” he yelled.
That scowl had never looked more nasty.
Ditto for the Thunder.
On a night when the boys in blue had to find a way to win to extend their season much beyond the weekend, they not only beat the Spurs but also changed the complexion of this series. They did it with defense. They did it with execution. But most of all, they did it with nasty.
Thunder 102, Spurs 82.
“We played better basketball,” Thunder coach Scott Brooks said. “That was the game plan going in — to play much better basketball.”
Did better basketball mean nastier basketball?
When asked the question in the postgame press conference, Brooks gave a wry smile.
Hey, just because Spurs coach Gregg Popovich told his guys that he wanted some nasty and it became a phenomenon in San Antonio doesn't mean they are the only ones who can get down and dirty.
The Spurs don't have the corner on nasty.
“It's important to play tough basketball,” Brooks said. “It's what we're about. We're built on toughness.”
Well, actually, the Thunder is built on a trio of amazingly talented youngsters named Kevin Durant, Russell Westbrook and James Harden. You aren't going to mistake these Thunder for the present-day Grizzlies or bad-boy Pistons. But still, these guys can bring the grit and the grind.
And with their postseason hopes hanging in the balance, they brought it Thursday night.
We saw signs of what was to come in Game 2. When the Thunder found itself down three touchdowns in the second half, it slowed down the Spurs' flow by bringing a bit of street fight to the game. It hacked Tiago Splitter. It bowed up.