Perkins helps lock down old friends on Celtics

Perkins helps lock down old friends on Celtics
March 11, 2013, 5:30 am
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OKLAHOMA CITY — Kevin Durant led the charge for Oklahoma City with 23 points and 11 rebounds in the Thunder's 91-79 win over Boston.

Russell Westbrook had 15 points and Serge Ibaka had seven points, seven rebounds and a pair of blocked shots despite early foul trouble.

Kendrick Perkins' six-point, five-rebound, five-assist night doesn't exactly jump off the stat sheet as being one of the players who stepped up in a big way for the Thunder. But his former teammates and coach in Boston are quick to remind anyone asking just how important Perkins is to any team, but especially a team like Oklahoma City that has title aspirations.

"You'll look at his numbers and a lot of times you'll say, 'What does he do?' " said C's coach Doc Rivers. "Well I can tell you . . . a lot."

Perkins' defense was among the reasons why Kevin Garnett had a horrific night shooting the ball on Sunday, missing 14 of his 19 shots while finishing with just 10 points.

"Perk didn't do anything new tonight," Garnett said. "It was typical Perk."

Garnett, arguably the biggest influence on Perkins defensively, has always held his former pupil in high regard for several reasons.

First and foremost, Perkins competes -- always -- and it doesn't matter if you're foe, friend or a friend with "BFF" status like Celtics guard Rajon Rondo.

After the game, Perkins' teammates talked about how he stepped up to the challenge of guarding Garnett.

"That's his mentor (Garnett), the guy he learned a lot from and the guy he looked up to and he took the challenge of making him shoot tough twos," Durant said. "KG makes a lot of those and some of those shots he normally makes that he missed tonight."

To see the Thunder thrive since acquiring Perkins is not a surprise to Rivers, especially when he considers the talent that Perkins has around him in Oklahoma City.

"He's a great player to have on your team when you have great players on your team," Rivers said. "He knows what to tell them, and he backs them up. It's good to have an instigator. I think we can strongly put Perk in the instigator category. That's why I love him."

Perkins is indeed a role player -- a role player whose ability to impact games in ways that don't necessarily show up on the stat sheet makes him a favorite of just about every coach he has played for.

"He understands exactly who he is; he enjoys it," said Rivers who added, "Red Auerbach used to tell me all the time, 'You need instigators on your team.' "

Perkins?

"He may be the captain," Rivers said.