Kendrick Perkins is considered one of the best post defenders in the NBA, but his two most impressive stops Monday night came against a shooting guard.
The Thunder held the world champion Dallas Mavericks scoreless in the final 2:46 and finished with an 8-0 run to post a 95-91 victory before another sellout crowd at Chesapeake Energy Arena.
Dallas came up empty on its final five possessions. On two occasions, Perkins switched off defensively to guard Mavs guard Jason Terry, one of the most lethal sixth men in the league.
Perkins forced a shot-clock violation when Terry took an ugly fade-away prayer from the left wing that wound up being an airball. The other was a miss along the right baseline from12 feet that barely drew iron.
“Perk did a great job of making him (Terry) miss both shots and if he would have made them, it just would have been a lucky shot,” OKC coach Scott Brooks said. “Perk is a competitor … his activity was really good tonight.”
Perkins rarely fills up a stat sheet, but Monday's line was more robust than usual with seven points, 3-for-5 shooting from the field and a season-high 14 rebounds, with five at the offensive end.
In the first quarter alone, Perkins had five points and eight rebounds. His final rebound came with 2:51 left in the third quarter. Perkins re-entered with 4:24 left in the game and the score tied at 85.
“Perk competes, guys,” Brooks told reporters afterward. “It's great to see him have some rebounds and the stats sheet looks really impressive, but trust me, when I say this I really mean it, he does so much for us.”
Even more impressive was this effort came two days after Perkins struggled to do much right at Atlanta on Saturday night, fouling out in just 15½ minutes in a 97-90 loss.
“I didn't give us nothin' in the Atlanta game,” Perkins admitted. “I mean nothin' defensively, nothin' offensively. I've been thinking about it since last night and just come out and set the tone. With rebounding, I feel like once you get one and two, you start getting into a rhythm.”
Said Nick Collison, the man whom Perkins replaced toward the end of Monday's game: “I think as a player, when you have a bad night, you really kind of raise your focus level and try to bounce back. I think all of us were probably embarrassed with how we played at Atlanta. We wanted to make sure we came back with a lot more effort.”
As for shutting down Terry, Perkins said he was trying to make up for two previous mistakes that allowed open looks for sharp-shooter Dirk Nowitzki, who in the fourth quarter went 4 for 4 from 3-point range for 12 points.
“I messed up the previous two plays before that,” Perkins said. “I was in the paint and Dirk got a wide-open 3. When I helped, he got another wide open 3, so I just wanted to make up (for it) and kind of set the tone defensively and just slide my feet.”
Perkins' teammates had no complaints whatsoever with their scowling center.
“Perk did a great job,” All-Star Kevin Durant said. “Perk was phenomenal on the boards tonight.”