“Obviously,” Laker coach Mike Brown said, “we needed more from him.”
Part of that was Bynum, who looked from the start like he was in one of his funky moods, but part of that was the Thunder big, especially Perk. He fronted Bynum and gave him fits.
“Perk just does a great job of outworking him,” Brown said.
Hard to argue that.
Remember, Perk is playing injured, too. He's going to be injured as long as the Thunder remains in the playoffs. That hip injury he suffered in Dallas isn't going to be completely healed until sometime in the offseason.
“But he's competing every day with it,” Brooks said.
Perk has that warrior mentality.
Ditto for Ibaka and Collison.
While the three of them were able to slow the Lakers' bigs, they were also able to help open up the Thunder offense. Without their rebounding and their defending, the Thunder would've struggled to get out in transition.
But that was rarely a problem in this series, and it certainly wasn't an issue in Game 5. The Thunder scored 30 fast-break points on Monday night to the Lakers' six.
Thirty points in transition.
That's not all a credit to the Thunder bigs. There were steals and deflections that lead to transition baskets, but a lot of those easy points were a result of fantastic interior defense by Perk, Serge and Nick.
“They've just been fighting all series,” Durant said. “They battled all series. You've got to tip your hat to them.
“They did things that don't show up on the stat sheet.”
Brooks said, “They've always been our unsung heroes.”
Monday night, they were the big three.