Kevin Durant bounced a between-his-legs pass in the general direction of Kendrick Perkins, and Mr. Smooth did the rest.
Perkins snared the ball on the move, maybe 10 feet from the basket and lofted a running one-hander that swished through the net.
I know. Hard to believe. You can watch a thousand Thunder games and never see that again. But if you do, it's likely to come against the Celtics.
Gran Torino still gets fired up to play Boston.
“Oh yeah,” said Rajon Rondo, Perk's old point guard in Boston and the only player remaining from the Celtic roster when Perkins was traded to OKC three years ago. “I'm sure he wants to beat this team every chance he gets.”
With his usual post defense unnecessary against a Celtic void of much post presence or pick-and-roll threat, Perkins resorted to offense Sunday night in the Thunder's 119-96 rout of Boston. Perk had a season-high 12 points and six rebounds.
“I think it's common,” Scotty Brooks said of Perkins' heightened intensity for Boston. “You could tell. That's the team that drafted him. That's the team he won his championship with. The city obviously embraced him. They love that he competes every night, plays for the team. Kind of the reason we like him.”
Foreman Scotty paid homage to Perkins' Celtic heritage by running the opening play for Perk. A one-on-one in the post. Perkins missed a jump hook, but no matter. He made five of his next seven shots, plus a couple of foul shots. Only four times as a Boomer has Perkins scored more than 12.
Sometimes Brooks will run an opening play for Serge Ibaka or Thabo Sefolosha, trying to get them involved in the offense. You don't want Perkins involved in the offense, at least not with an eye on the basket. This was a tribute.
“I appreciate it,” Perkins said. “I thought he wanted to get me going. Scotty played in the league before, so he know how it is, playing against a former team.”
Of course, these Celtics aren't the Gran Torino Celtics. No Kevin Garnett. No Paul Pierce. No Ray Allen. No Doc Rivers.
Only the uniforms are the same. Even Rondo was in street clothes, still recovering from knee surgery.
“That was my first trade,” Rondo said. “Some trades are more difficult than others. That trade in particular. Perk was the guy, on road trips, always go get something to eat, always play cards together, we was always together, like brothers.
“The time you spend with each other, you can't really get that time back. So it was difficult. But as you said, it is part of the business.”
Perkins said he actually enjoyed playing the faceless Celtics instead of his old friends.
“It felt weird,” Gran Torino said. “It felt better. I could compete more. I ain't got to be out there being extra-friendly, because I don't know none of the guys and I don't know the coach.
“The only people I know is the people that still work in the organization. Make it a whole lot easier on my end to go out there and compete and still have that kill mentality.”
After the game, Rondo was in the stands, chatting with Perkins' family. And Durant was talking about that between-the-legs pass.
“I think I liked that between-my-legs pass better than my behind-the-back,” Durant said. “I tried to bring that one out. He made me look good.”
And Perkins didn't even know that the pass sailed between Durant's legs.
“He did that tonight?” Perkins asked. “I don't know. KD been throwing some passes lately. You never know what to expect out him. He been getting cute sometimes, so you never know.”
But this you'll know. Celtic green still motivates Perkins.
Berry Tramel: Berry can be reached at (405) 760-8080 or at firstname.lastname@example.org. He can be heard Monday through Friday from 4:40-5:20 p.m. on The Sports Animal radio network, including FM-98.1. You can also view his personality page at newsok.com/berrytramel.