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.
“He's moved on to his new family here, which is great,” said Celtic star Paul Pierce. “But Perk knows he'll always be family, he'll always be remembered, especially by me and the Boston organization.”
Perkins was particularly close to Garnett and point guard Rajon Rondo. Those two and Pierce are the only remaining players from the title team.
“I think it'll be easier when a lot of the guys that I played with be off the team,” Gran Torino said. “Still pretty hard going against guys I went to war with.
“We had great times over there. Not easy at all, especially going against a coach who pretty much raised me. Who started me who I was as a player. It's always difficult, but know I'm always trying to get the win.”
Perkins played winning basketball Sunday. He led the Thunder with five assists. He had five rebounds. And he made Garnett have a miserable night.
Serge Ibaka helped, too. Ibaka blocked two Garnett shots and played some tough defense himself. Garnett made just one of 10 shots in the second half, when the Celtics as a team shot 25 percent.
Rivers has been after Garnett to shoot more. “I love him having 20 shots, but I'd like him having 20 good shots,” Rivers said. “I thought he had 10 good shots, and then 10 very tough shots.”
Good luck getting 20 good shots against the Thunder. Not with Perkins taking the challenge.
Berry Tramel: Berry can be reached at (405) 760-8080 or at firstname.lastname@example.org. 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.