Does Brooks also feel differently about his team? At any time Wednesday night did Brooks look at the determined Grizzlies and think, “That's how tough we used to be” or “That's how hard we should be playing”?
“No, there was a time I was looking (at Memphis) and said, ‘Wow, that's a very good team,' but I knew coming in they were good,” Brooks said.
Perkins has played the role of the hunted before — winning the 2008 NBA title at age 23 with the Boston Celtics — and said this season so far has felt similar to the year after claiming the crown.
“The only thing is we've got a team full of young guys (in OKC). There, we had a team full of veterans,” said Perkins, who turned 28 last Saturday. “If there's such a thing as being young and having success too early, we've got to make sure we continue to work and continue to do what got us to this point.”
Memphis has been one of the league's toughest, most physical teams the past three seasons, and the Grizzlies certainly didn't flinch playing the defending Western Conference champs on the road Wednesday night.
“That's us,” said Memphis forward Rudy Gay, who scored a season-high 28 points against OKC. “That's not just (against) this team. That's us. We don't back down from anybody. We're a tough team, too. They're a tough team, but I think we're just as tough, if not tougher. As you could see today, they didn't back down from anything and we didn't expect them to.”
If Gay still sees some fight in the Thunder, perhaps that means everybody else has turned it up a notch.
MORE FROM NEWSOK
Thunder at New Orleans
When: 7 p.m. Friday
Where: New Orleans Arena, New Orleans
TV: FS Oklahoma (Cox 37, HD Ch. 722)
Radio: WWLS 98.1-FM, WWLS 640-AM
Three things to know
* The Hornets are 2-2 at home this season and are coming off a 100-96 loss at Houston on Wednesday night.
* Projected rookie of the year Anthony Davis missed two games earlier this season because of a concussion.
* New Orleans is solid defensively, allowing just 90.5 points per game, but is only scoring 89.5 points itself.