Thunder Inside Men Do The Job

HANG TIME HEADQUARTERS — Kevin Durant and Russell Westbrook will continue to draw the biggest crowds and garners the most headlines for all that goes on with the Oklahoma City Thunder.

That’s what All-Stars do. But if the Thunder challenge the Spurs, Lakers and Mavericks for the Western Conference crown this season, they’ll have to do it from the inside out.

And that means they’ll need more of what they got from Kendrick Perkins and Serge Ibaka in last night’s win over Portland that clinched their second consecutive playoff berth. The two Thunder bigs came up with clutch, back-to-back blocks at the rim in the final minute of a tight game (above), setting the stage for Westbrook to finish the Trail Blazers off with big shots in the final 53 seconds.

“They do a good job protecting the basket,” Thunder coach Scott Brooks told the Oklahoman. “They compliment each other very well.”

While blockbuster trade-deadline deals in other places have yet to provide the desired results (ahem, sorry New York), the Thunder have seen the fruits of general manager Sam Presti‘s front office labor. Perkins was declared a perfect fit by many of us that grade these things immediately, and he’s proved to be exactly that.

Challenging the Lakers (Pau Gasol, Lamar Odom and Andrew Bynum), the Spurs (Tim Duncan, Antonio McDyess and DeJuan Blair) and Mavericks (Dirk Nowitzki, Tyson Chandler and Brendan Haywood) isn’t nearly as daunting a task now as it was before Perkins, Ibaka and Nazr Mohammed joined forces with Nick Collison and rookie Cole Aldrich.

As crazy as it sounds, the Thunder will also get a boost from Durant on the defensive end. With his length, timing and athleticism, he’ll be able to extend the Thunder’s defensive pressure all over the floor. He had a career-high tying five blocks of his own against the Trail Blazers, one more than Perkins (two) and Ibaka (two) combined.

Perkins and Ibaka combined for 18 rebounds and they also delivered the defensive toughness that will carry the Thunder into the playoffs … along with heavy doses of Westbrook and Durant, of course!

54 Comments

  1. walkerdog says:

    The refs miss calls every game.Thunder won game over. In Portland they get the call

  2. That Dude says:

    No one needs to be scared of the thunder this year… I dont think they are ready this year to take it all… But dang the future thunder… They are scary… Its just funny to me how when the decision took place…Lebron thought it was going to be easy to get rings… Now with this Thunder team and other teams up and coming… There is no guarantee for anything… Im loving this new NBA… Stars on one team…Its showing more and more that its not just about talent and stars that makes you a winner… Now people like Kobe and Duncan can get more respect for what they have done and what they are doing… I swear if Durant gets a ring before Lebron…. Lebrons legacy will go up in flames… Being known as that super powerhouse that could never really lead his team to a championship…NBA amazing happens…

    • 16TimeChampions says:

      The Thunder remind me of that Utah Jazz team in 1988. That young Utah team took a veteran Lakers team to 7 very tough games in the 1st round! They had two up and coming players in Karl Malone, his 3rd year, and a 4th year guard in John Stockton. We all know the Jazz were in competition in almost all Western Conference Finals or NBA Finals in the 90’s so like the Thunder, you can see the possibilities. Sam Presti has done a great job of setting up City of Oklahoma City for many years of very competitive basketball in the NBA. Also, it’ll be interesting to see what Mitch Kupchack does to counter those moves as Kobe moves into “senior citizen” mode in the next few years or so. I see OKC, Chicago, Portland, maybe NY and Miami battling for supremacy in the league within the next 10 years. (I would love it if Kevin Durant would win a title before Lebron James though.) LOL!!!!

  3. OKC-ALLDAY says:

    fisher can’t guard westbrook :)

  4. P.SLICK says:

    i think that the thunder will come out of the west this year because of the presense of those big bodies they added. if i’m not mistaken they gave the lakers all they could handle last year in the first round of the playoffs and that was when they weren’t that good at rebounding and making critical plays on the defensive end of the floor in crucial moments. SCARY!!!!!!!!!!!!!! not to mention that Kevin Durant and Russel Westbrook will run your tongue out of your mouth

  5. SG says:

    its going to be bulls against lakers on the finals no doubt :) miami is a strong team but they will never make it.. :) lol

  6. xwkkx says:

    wow this nba wannabee refs here are hilarious..let me see you officiate an nba game

  7. kantankruz says:

    God I’m excited for the playoffs. The next 5 years are very exciting as well. Come on OKC!

  8. YES SIR says:

    THUNDER IS A PLAYOFF CONTENDER ..I SEE THEM AS A TEAM NOT INDIVIDUAL STAR PLAYERS WHICH IS A SIGN OF WINNING A CHAMPIONSHIP..
    LAKERS WILL GO HARD, NO DOUBT ABOUT THAT.. THEY DIDN’T CALL KOBE ” BLACK MAMBA ” FOR NO REASON..
    MIAMI, IF THEY WILL NOT WIN THIS YEAR.. I THINK PAT RILEY NEEDS TO STEP UP..

  9. Thunder over Nuggets says:

    I agree Gary. San Antonio could very well lose control of the number one seed but it’s not in L.A.s’ best interest. Here’s why….as it stands L.A. would play New Orleans considering everything remains the same seeding wise. If L.A. gets back to the number one seed they would play the Grizzlies which are a hungry team and capable of giving the Lakers a run for their money. The Hornetless West team is weaker than the Grizzlies without Rudy Gay. The Grizzlies still have Randolph, who is a beast on the boards, and Marc Gasol inside. That match up has danger written all over it. Trust me.

  10. Picture? says:

    The pic posted on the main site with Ibaka & Perkins is very ‘Homolicious’. LOL

  11. laura pinto says:

    i think okc is playoff material

  12. Thunder over Nuggets says:

    Yeah and Wallace fouled Durant when the two got tangled up earlier that game not the other way around. I still remember last year a game vs. Utah towards the end of the season and towards the end of the game where Durant was obviously fouled and it wasn’t call and it cost OKC the game. Point is calls are missed and calls are called wrong. Officials get it right the majority of the time. What’s getting old is dwelling on foul calls or lack thereof. Get over it. It’s not like Portland didn’t get their share of calls down the stretch, like Wallace stepping on Harden’s foot on an attempted fastbreak that ended up being called a clear path foul.

  13. Gary says:

    With all the blogs that could have been done today, why are we not seeing one one San Antonio possibly losing the 1st seed? It’s gonna happen.

  14. Tyeo says:

    The Celtics are still not in full strength yet they have shaq and jermaine injured plus a 3 point shooter von wafer yes they are losing games to bad teams and they are not playing as hard as they were in the beginning of the season. After 3 weeks it’s going to be playoff time, like what doc said”Health is num1″ im pretty sure they want 1st seed in the east back but to be able to reach the NBA finals they need a full healthy teams id rather see them lose 2 or 3 in a row than seeing one of the big 4 injured. I think Rondo will be back soon against pacers or Spurs this week.

  15. 16TimeChampions says:

    “We messed with the Laker’s heads when they came to town.”

    Check your scoreboard buddy, the last time I checked the Lakers have won both meetings with OKC this year. You really have done a good job of “messing with L.A.’s head.” LOL!!!! More importantly they haven’t beaten the Lakers in a playoff series yet. “Jerk-off”kins, or rather Perkins will improve OKC’s interior defense but in a 7 game series, I like the Lakers chances with Andrew Bynum and a skilled big man in Gasol all night.

  16. Redonkulous says:

    This hype about the 2 blocks towards the end of the game, is getting old. Nba.com-writers should know better. Perkins hit Wallace’s arm, no contact with ball. You can hear Wallace, a sincere and honest player, in my opinion, shout, and his layup is way off the mark, another indicator. Clear foul on the 1st “block”, and if officiated correctly, the 2nd should never have taken place. Use your eyes when watching the video, stop the hype. On a side-note, Wallace torched them, on both ends. If the foul got called, and he made his free-throws, it would’ve been a 2pt. game..

  17. WhatAboutThabo says:

    I see all this stuff about OKC’s D and NOTHING about Thabo?! You must forget how important he is as a stopper. I mean, his stats don’t always compliment his play but you must admit and see, as basketball connaisseurs, that his form is near perfect on the defensive end. He’s played huge games on Kobe and DWade, for example. Keep it in mind.

    • JV says:

      hmmmmm yeah the thunder now have a fantastic defensive line up. with perkins able to handle big men one on one, ibaka as one of the leagues best shot blockers, seflosha being one of the best defensive two-guards in the league, russel westbrook averaging over two steals a game and durant having a 7″4′ wingspan i think they may be able to handle almost any offense in the league.

  18. youkiddinme says:

    what are the lakers record after the allstar break..like 16-1 ..out of all of those games , they only played 5 legit contenders ..and that was ..the thunder ..the spurs ..the heat (who they lost to) ..orlando..and dallas ..but nobody discredit them ..but let miami play against those same teams ..all you’ll hear is ..”they can’t beat nobody good” ..isn’t that a little biased? for the most part ..they have beat and lost to some of the same teams.

  19. Mark James says:

    the bulls can do something!they hav rose!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

  20. D.Allen says:

    Perk is very nice and no doubt an important piece of the C’s success. But please remember that THIS YEAR…Perk only played in 10 games and was working his way back into form even then. They pretty much won all of their games THIS YEAR with out him.

  21. SpursDaBest!! says:

    Nothing to do with the convo but Just cause We lost 3 in a row dont mean we arent good. Were still the best even if lakers have had a good second half Spurs we not go down easy this year Just keep hating on the City! San Antonio Spurs!! Get Mad!!!

  22. LANDIM says:

    Wat about J ONEAL wath about BIG SHAQ??
    please be quiet… IF ANY CONTENDER (LAL ,SAS ,ORL,CHICAGO lost their 2 first options for center posicion were injured tthey woldnt be even close to 15.5… plaese be quiet

  23. Aaron says:

    I thought Perk fouled Wallace…hit his arm, no?

  24. AyDonKer says:

    Nah. Bulls can’t do anything this post season. Still gon be Celts in th east. Gonna argue with me on how they’re playing lately? Go. they’re almost at the same level they were a year ago. And then what happened in the playoffs? They gave the Lakers an epic 7 game series. Dont judge a team basedd on what they did on th regular season.

  25. I Bulleive says:

    Without Perkins, Joakim Noah and Boozer will destroy the Celtics if they ever meet in the playoffs

  26. Herr says:

    Watch that video closely. (the first one). Perkins obviously hits the arm (not the ball) of Gerald Wallace. No foul call?

    Andre Miller gets the rebound, but is pushed in the back by Serge Ibaka. Again, no foul call. Eventually the long rebound “or block” goes to Westbrook for an easy lay in.

    The video is right there, and you idiots at NBA.com think it was actually a block? You’re freaking analyst of the game. Learn it before you post stupid stuff like that.

    Regardless, the Thunder are a first round exit. They’ve got about 30 wins this season because the officials have helped them out in the 4th quarter. Durant pulls his stupid up and under move to purposely draw fouls and Westbrook jumps into a crowd and falls on his own rear and it’s called a foul with no contact actually being made. These two get to the foul line more than any other duo. The Thunder are one of the worse offensive teams in the league but their efficiency is so high because of their FTA. One of the most pathetic teams to be in the NBA.

    BTW, Gerald Wallace absolutely destroyed Durant last night on both ends of the court. I can’t believe this fool is in the MvP talks.

    They can’t win in the Pepsi Center. Nuggets will beat the Thunder in the first round.

    • thunderup says:

      30 games because of calls? Calls go both ways in games. Everyone thinks their team got fouled if it’s against them. And you can’t hype up Wallace’s game and put down Durant when Wallace pulled the exact same move multiple times, and on both ends of the court? Durant may not have been able to get a shot to fall, but try 5 blocked shots. If you actually watched a Thunder game instead of just listening to what your ‘freaking analysts’ say you’d realize that their intention isn’t to draw the foul unless it’s a last resort or the better option, and when they need to they’re good enough to do it. Durant hits lots of clean shots and Westbrook drives without drawing a foul most of the time. It’s a part of the game and I’m sure you get excited when your team actually gets to the line.

      As for the playoffs, Denver doesn’t stand a chance. Much better match up without Anthony true, and if Nené is aggressive the whole time it’ll be fun to watch. Otherwise the lane will be clogged by Perk Ibaka and Nazr, and Sefolosha and Durant will mess with their shooters. It’ll be a close match up for sure and the best one in my opinion, but the Nuggets are gonna get dropped in the end.

      And the Pepsi Center, really? Have you been to a game in the Ford Center? Good luck. The Nuggets are gonna need it. We messed with the Laker’s heads when they came to town..

      • 16TimeChampions says:

        “We messed with the Laker’s heads when they came to town.”

        Check your scoreboard buddy, the last time I checked the Lakers have won both meetings with OKC this year. You really have done a good job of “messing with L.A.’s head.” LOL!!!! More importantly they haven’t beaten the Lakers in a playoff series yet. “Jerk-off”kins, or rather Perkins will improve OKC’s interior defense but in a 7 game series, I like the Lakers chances with Andrew Bynum and a skilled big man in Gasol.

      • thunderup says:

        DIdn’t say the Thunder could beat LA. Didn’t say they’d advance past the 2nd round this year necessarily. I was referring to the 1st round versus the Nuggets, and the home court environment. Based on how the Lakers should have done against OKC last year then yeah I would say something was off. Bad wording on my part maybe, but unless jackson and your lakers are really that pompous to think they could come into a playoff round without taking the other team seriously then yeah, I’d say the crowd and environment in OKC wasn’t exactly the easiest to play in during the playoffs. But no I’m not arguing, this year the Thunder wouldn’t stand a chance against the Lakers in a whole series.

    • That Was The Most Idioc Thing Ive Ever Seen…..Are You Serious! I Mean The FTA Is Just Apart Of The Thunders Game All Teams Have There Lil Things That They Excell In So You Cant Take Anything Away From Them….Thats A Part Of The Game…. So When Other Teams Play Them They Will Just Have To Adjust…And Durant Is One Of The Top 5 Players In The League Whether Its Scoring, Defensive Or Anything Else He Is Always Contributing…. I Guess Leading The League In Scoring(The Youngest To Ever Do It) Means Nothings….. And If You Can Count The Times Westbrook Has Not Gotten Fouled But Gets To The Line…. I Can For DarnShore Count The Many Times That He Has Not Gotten A Call….. So Face It The Thunder(3rd Youngest Team In The League) Is Becoming A Major Contender… And People Just Cant Except That….. Im From Oklahoma I Live Hear… We Love The Thunder I Mean Were Not A Big City Like L.A. Or Miami But We Sure Do Play With Those Teams So…… Pick Up Your Face!!!!

  27. Smelo SUCKS says:

    I would say that OKC would go all the way IF they didnt play the Nuggets first round!!

    • got_watcha_want says:

      Bring it Nuggets……… we get to see about it twice before the first round when they play, so there should be a better idea before the first round even starts.

  28. Sean says:

    Rondo and Perkins were close friends. As soon as Perkins is traded, Rondo’s play turns to crap. Rondo goes down, the Celtics go down, they need their facilitator at his best. And Rondo will get out of his slump when playoffs come around, regardless of where Perkins is. Boston will come out of the East if Rondo does pull himself together. This all coming (ironically perhaps) from an OKC fan.

    Thunder up!

  29. Got 3's? says:

    One important thing, people forgot here is that Boston was in the No.1 position without Perkins for most of this season.
    Its a hole in the defense but offensively, the celts are much stronger with Jeff Green and Kristic. Another important thing, is the fact that Kendrick Perkins himself (after the trade) told the OKC media that he had learnt a lot from K.G. and that he was a role player in the Celts but now more of a role model in OKC. So remember, the Celts taught him a lot! The celtics are definitely having a slump now, but if you go back one season, they had similar struggles after the all star break last season as well, but went on to win the Eastern Conference finals. If Boston has any threat at all, I see it coming only from Bulls.

    • celtic says:

      exactly. its not perkins that made the celts the eastern conference leaders all year long. it was there ubuntu play–which has taken somewhat of a blow with both the loss of players and the addition because new players have to learn to play the celtic way but also to unite with the originals (big 3, rondo, etc.)–and it was also shaq who was great for them.
      people forget the importance of marquis daniels to the lineup as well, and nate robinson. i dont think nate is a great loss, but while delonte is regaining his step and arroyo is learning the celtic way, nate would have been great to have coming off the bench for rondo. marquis was a great back up for pierce, i was sorry to see him go down the way he did against orlando, and sad that it had such an impact on his trade from the celts. i honestly think marquis is a better back up for paul than pavlovic is.
      the trades of perk and marquis are the big ones to me, marquis actually being the bigger one. marquis was obviously replaced very well while we didnt really get a perkins replacement in krstic. but when shaq and jermaine return the celts will show why they were number one in the east all season: the presence of a true, championship center in shaq despite perk’s injury.

  30. yoyo says:

    well, it was obvious that perkins is one of the guys that do all the dirty work while others got the praise, and everybody tends to forgot the orlando-boston series, when d-12 struggles when perkins is behind him, now all centers will west because perkins is just entering his prime as a center at the age of 26 and his team respects him. he is not the young fella, like in boston, he is the tutor in this team, and with his idea of defense thunder has the edge on paint.
    Its only up to Durant and Westbrook to gain consistency, i’m not talking about consistency like ppg or apg, i am talking about it like fg percentage. Westbrook Durant Ibaka Sefolosha Perkins-Harden Collison Cook and goes on, accept it they are scary and they are the youngest team among the contenders.

  31. Aidan says:

    Celtics dont need perk. Dont miss him much over here. Nenad is much better offnsivel. Yes he lacks defense, but he brings way much more offensively. And did you all forget? Perk played 7 games this season with limited minutes. The celtics have been #1 in the east for the majority of the season without him. This trade does not hurt the celts. They are just in a slump. Lakers had one this season, the heat did, and the spurs are in one now. Everyone has their droughts.

    • Wait a Minute says:

      True True True.

      • George says:

        The Celtics won’t need Perkins in the playoffs if they get both O’Neals back. They could still win a championship with both O’Neals. But if one or both of them remain hurt, then it was a bad trade. Nenad Krystic is a finesse center. He’s not physical. He doesn’t control the paint or play post defense. He’s a good backup center that’s more suited for playing with the second unit. The O’Neals need to play with the starters in order for the Celtics to be successful.

      • P.SLICK says:

        the celtics do need perk because without the beefy bodies on this team it leaves the east up for grabs

  32. #TeamHeat says:

    That was the dumbest trade for BOS. OKC is playing great basketball on both sides of the floor, no doubt because of the DEFENSIVE presence with PERKINS. I think OKC will beat LAL/DAL/SAS 4 times.

  33. got_watcha_want says:

    Thunder up, we love perk here in the OK state.

    Thanks Boston.

  34. prix says:

    The main reason for the struggling Boston is no doubt but Perk and now it proves it on how he affect and bring his defensive skills here in OKC…I always say that the success of Boston is not on there Big 3 but because of Rondo and Perk…real BIG 3 is in MIAMI…now that OKC is very strong on both offense and defense…Lakers and Mavs should be scared…no doubt they will reach the west finals this season…very solid!

    • Los says:

      i will agree that they are scary good…but dont trip, lakers made the mistake last year underestimating them..this year, the lakers will be ready..that’s of course that oklahoma dont get knocked out ..its lakers all the way out in the west…and its chicago possibly out in the east..they are playing the best ball compared to the other teams in the east…miami hasnt been playing any one with winning records of late and i think they only play 2 teams with above .500 records out of the last ten or so games they have left…. miami is gonna get crushed by somebody, just dont think they are ready yet…

      • YV says:

        miami just played Atlanta, Denver, Philly, Houston, they are all in the playoff hunt and playing well of late. Miami is 4real and is going to prove a lot of haters wrong.

      • sean says:

        to yv— none of those teams you just names are making conference finals let alone nba finals. to say they are a for rel team then ypu must look at how they play against the lakers spurs bulls and celtics

    • think says:

      Always!?!? its just funny how a few years back when the C’s Big3 was built people were saying the other “two starters” won’t be able to handle them. Anyway, still rooting for the C’s… though I miss Perk’s presence, I still think the C’s team concept we’ll get them through adversity.

      • Celtics Fan says:

        It would really help them out if either one of the Oneals could get healthy enough to give them decent minutes. Kristic has been much better than I expected but we need someone besides Garnett to play some defense inside

      • Rob says:

        There’s no ‘Shaq’ in ‘team’.

    • Clakers says:

      The hidden reason for Boston to send away their starting center to OKC is try to resolve the Lakers before meeting them in the Finals. To be honest, Boston does not need all those big bodies to get out from the east unless they meet Orlando, which probably will be handled by the Bulls.

    • JSBC says:

      So, Prix, how come the Celtics were so successful at the beginning of the season without Perk? (They busted out as the clear first place in the east) They are still experiencing some shock from the trade. As soon as they get Shaq back in the lineup, they can calm down and start playing the basketball, the Perk-less basketball they had been playing at the beginning of the season. The only difference is that now they have a very good back-up for Pierce and Ray in Jeff Green.

    • wasn´t Perk injuried in the first months of the season and didn´t the C´s win a lotta ballgames without him? think you gotta look at Rondos slump. maybe Perkins departure is affecting them mentally, but they have had succes without him.