After making his Thunder debut at Washington on Monday and playing in his second game Wednesday at Miami, center Kendrick Perkins will make his home debut Friday night against Charlotte.
The Thunder acquired Perkins and guard Nate Robinson in a four-player trade with Boston on Feb 24, sending Jeff Green and Nenad Krstic to the Celtics. Perkins missed nine games following the trade with a sprained knee.
In his first two games, however, Perkins has beefed up the Thunder's interior defense alongside power forward Serge Ibaka. The 6-foot-10 Perkins has averaged just 19 minutes in his first two games. But Monday's game against the Wizards was a blowout in which he wasn't needed in the fourth quarter, and he labored through foul trouble against the Heat.
But Perkins admitted that he still isn't 100 percent, though his challenge at this point is more about getting acclimated rather than his knee. Perkins said he isn't sure when he might feel completely comfortable.
“It might take the rest of the year,” said Perkins, who's played in only 14 games this season after missing the season's first 43 with the Celtics while recovering from a knee injury he sustained in the NBA Finals last year. “But any time I step on the court I'm going to give it my all. I'm happy where I'm at right now.”
So are his teammates.
“Perk is a veteran,” said Kevin Durant. “He knows what it takes and he knows his role. And he's done a great job for us. He's a big guy down there in the paint, rebounding for us and defending. He's coming along pretty well.”
Perkins said he's been impressed with the attitude of his new teammates, calling them mature beyond their years.
“It's guys who I always see working hard, guys always in the gym,” Perkins said. “So I'm just excited about being here. … I just feel like if we stay together, stay humble, the sky's the limit for us.”
HEAT IMPRESSED WITH THUNDER
If Oklahoma City didn't have it before, there was no doubt the Thunder had earned Miami's respect following a 96-85 win over the Heat on Wednesday at American Airlines Arena.
LeBron James insisted that his teammates shouldn't feel awful with how they played, even saying “we can be satisfied with this loss.” Dwyane Wade, meanwhile, labeled the Thunder as a team to be reckoned with.
“They are better,” Wade said. “They did a great job getting themselves prepared for the Western Conference. They are going to be right there in the thick of things, because they have added some beef up front and they have athleticism.”
CLOSING IT OUT
Perhaps the most impressive aspect of the Thunder's win at Miami was how OKC closed out the game.
After taking a five-point lead into the fourth quarter, the Thunder turned a 67-64 advantage early in the fourth quarter into an 80-69 lead with 6:59 remaining. Oklahoma City held Miami to 0-for-6 shooting, forcing the Heat to take a series of jump shots while hounding them into two turnovers during that stretch.
When Miami made a 9-5 run to pull within 85-78, threatening to pull off a come-from-behind victory, James Harden nailed a 3-pointer that pushed the lead back to 10 with 3:11 left to play. The Heat never got closer than nine.
“That's one thing that we've gotten better at is closing games out, closing periods out,” Durant said. “We got to keep getting better at that. Watching film is key for us.”