The Thunder turned up the heat offensively – scored on five of its last six possessions, after it had made only seven field goals the entire second half.
But this game was won on defense.
“Played great defense throughout that game,” Brooks said. “We can play multiple ways. I thought our guys did a good job grinding it out.”
The Thunder hounded Kobe Bryant into a miserable night, nine of 25 shooting. Kobe credited the Thunder defense for pushing him too far from the basket, sometimes starting out 25 feet away.
The Thunder also made Andrew Bynum labor for his 20 points.
The Thunder MVP was Kendrick Perkins. Gran Torino, playing with that sore hip, bodied and bullied Bynum into an 8-of-19 shooting night.
“Perk was really good,” Brooks said. “Going into today, not really sure he was going to play tonight. The guy gives everything he has to his team.
“You can never discount the heart of a champion. I'm proud of him. He's banged up. He understands it's NBA basketball. You gotta put yourself out there to help your team win.”
The Thunder looked world-class in Game 1. But in a game like that, heart is no factor. Heart was a big factor Wednesday night.
Not just Perkins, but all his ‘mates, displayed the heart of a champion.
Berry Tramel: Berry can be reached at (405) 760-8080 or at email@example.com. 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.