The fire still burns in the (slender) belly of Kendrick Perkins

Thunder coach Scott Brooks said it's a good thing when Perkins is ‘made at his opponent'
by Berry Tramel Published: December 25, 2011

Kendrick Perkins lingered in the backcourt while his teammates sped the ball upcourt.

Happened a lot last season. But that was because of Perk's sore knee. This was because he wanted a piece of referee Bill Kennedy's time.

Don't know what Gran Torino said, but it was mean enough that Kennedy felt compelled to ask Thunder coach Scotty Brooks for backup.

Good luck with that. Foreman Scotty was in no mood to tell Perkins to cool it. Not with Perk playing championship-level defense on Dwight Howard.

“We don't want to calm down Perk,” Brooks said. “We like him a little angry. We like him mad at his opponent.”

Stay mad, Perk. Stay very mad.

The Thunder bounced Orlando 97-89 Sunday night in one of the NBA's five Christmas openers, and the reasons were many.

Kevin Durant's 30 efficient points. More superb play from the B Team. More emergence of James Harden as a budding star.

But the No. 1 reason was Perkins' defense on Howard. The NBA's best center had just 11 points on 4-of-12 shooting. And it gets better. Three of Howard's baskets came in the first 3:37 of the game.

After Howard's dunk with 8:23 left in the first quarter, he played 26 minutes and 15 seconds more with Perkins in the game. And didn't make a field goal.

“Perk was really good,” said Brooks. “He made him work for everything he had. He was really good staying between Dwight and the basket.”

Perkins credited the Thunder team defense and said of Howard, “I don't think he's had too many nights like that.”

Right on. Atlanta held Howard to six points in a playoff game last spring, but in the regular season, Howard hadn't been held so low since last Christmas, when he scored just six points in a victory over Boston.

We kept hearing how much better Perkins looked this season, compared to the still-rehabbing version we saw down the stretch last season after the trade with the Celtics.

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by Berry Tramel
Columnist
Berry Tramel, a lifelong Oklahoman, sports fan and newspaper reader, joined The Oklahoman in 1991 and has served as beat writer, assistant sports editor, sports editor and columnist. Tramel grew up reading four daily newspapers — The Oklahoman,...
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