Couldn’t have been any worse.
The conventional wisdom is that the Thunder would’ve been sacrificing offense by putting back on the floor, but the truth is, the Thunder outscored the Clippers by 22 points with Perk on the floor Sunday. The defense was better, and that led to better offense, including fast breaks and easy points.
But even if Perk would’ve hurt the offense in the fourth quarter, scoring points wasn’t the Thunder’s problem. Keeping the Clippers from scoring them by the bushel was. In the final nine minutes of the game, Los Angeles hit 13 shots, and most of them were easy ones. Only three shots were longer than five feet.
“We just relaxed,” Thunder superstar Kevin Durant said. “The defensive intensity wasn’t as great as it should’ve been.”
You suppose Perk might’ve ramped up the defensive intensity, made the Clippers think twice on some of those drives to the basket, maybe even put a forearm into someone had the layup drill continued?
Yeah, I suspect he would’ve, too.
Listen, it’s entirely possible that the Thunder would’ve still lost Sunday with Perk on the court, but as good as this guy has been on the defensive end in these playoffs, it’s difficult to imagine that the shots would’ve come as easily for the Clippers.
You know that Rivers and the Clippers are going to try to find a way to replicate that end-of-game success Tuesday night and beyond. But if the conga line to the basket starts again, the Thunder has a capable party crasher in Perk.
But he has to be on the court, not the bench.
Jenni Carlson: Jenni can be reached at 475-4125. Like her at facebook.com/JenniCarlsonOK, follow her at twitter.com/jennicarlson_ok or view her personality page at newsok.com/jennicarlson.