As the Celtics inbounded the ball at midcourt during the first half Sunday, referee Scott Wall had to caution Kendrick Perkins and Kevin Garnett. They were getting a little too physical jostling for position.
Were they being serious? Were these avowed blood brothers getting riled?
“It was serious at the time,” Perk said with a smile. “But there wasn't nothing behind it all. We damn near could have gave each other a hug.”
No one would have been surprised. But rest assured they were serious. Gran Torino and Garnett are nothing if not serious. And Garnett paid for that seriousness he helped instill in Perkins.
The Thunder beat the Celtics 91-79, and here's the No. 1 reason. Garnett made just five of 19 shots. That's Garnett's most misses in a game since Jan. 16, 2012, when he also went 5-of-19 against Perkins and the Thunder.
No coincidence there.
“Perk took the challenge,” said Kevin Durant. “That's his mentor, the guy he looked up to, the guy he learned a lot from, and he took the challenge by making him shoot tough shots.”
Garnett nailed his first two shots, but even that was a bad sign for Boston. They came from 20 and 22 feet away.
Those were the only two shots he made against Perkins all game. In 14:05 of playing time with Perk also on the court, Garnett was 2-of-8, and only one of the attempts was closer than 18 feet.
Garnett was 3-of-11 with Perkins on the bench, with all three makes at the basket and only two of the misses outside the paint.
Perkins kept Garnett away from the basket. That's how games are won.
“Perk didn't do anything new tonight,” Boston coach Doc Rivers said. “He was typical Perk.”
It's been 25 months since the Celtics traded Perkins, their 2008 NBA championship center, for Jeff Green. It's not getting any easier for Perkins and his old team to share the court.