The game-changer

  • Article by: JERRY ZGODA , Star Tribune
  • Updated: April 4, 2011 - 7:06 AM

Back to back, the Wolves play Oklahoma City and Boston - the current and former teams of Kendrick Perkins.

hide

Center Kendrick Perkins, front, brings toughness and championship experience to the Thunder.

Photo: Alonzo Adams, Associated Press

CameraStar Tribune photo galleries

Cameraview larger

In a span of 47 hours this weekend, the Timberwolves see the two teams that could reshape both the Eastern and Western Conference playoffs because of that February trade-deadline deal they made.

Oklahoma City and Boston swapped Jeff Green and Kendrick Perkins in a four-player deal that presumably gave the Thunder the defensive toughness and playoff experience it lacked and that brought the Celtics a versatile power forward and center Nenad Krstic for a player Danny Ainge didn't think he could re-sign, anyway.

The Thunder quickly negotiated a contract extension for Perkins, just the next in a series of astute moves made by drum-playing wunderkind Sam Presti that has it positioned to be a title contender in the next decade.

Celtics players treated Perkins' departure as if it were a death in the family, and they've played like it since the Feb. 24 trade.

Slumping down the stretch for the second consecutive season, Boston is 4-6 in its past 10 games, has seen its grasp on the East's No. 1 seed slip away to Chicago and lost Friday night at home to lowly Charlotte.

Afterward, Celtics coach Doc Rivers called his team "selfish" and suggested his players are more prepared these days to pout and moan rather than to win.

Let's see if that holds true Sunday evening against the Wolves at Target Center.

Perkins' absence supposedly hurts the Celtics' formidable defense, but their offense has struggled equally without him, a development Wolves coach Kurt Rambis said he doesn't expect will last with a lineup that includes Green's outside shooting to go with Rajon Rondo, Ray Allen, Paul Pierce and Kevin Garnett.

"Now it gives Doc a lot of versatility, particularly with Rondo out there, to space the floor," Rambis said. "He can put people out there who can open the floor a lot better and now it makes it very, very tough for teams to clog up the lane. If you had Perkins out there, it allows somebody to stay in the lane."

Perkins now gives the Thunder that guy who will clog the lane and who, at age 26, is nearly four years older than Kevin Durant and Russell Westbrook.

More important, he has won an NBA title and endured the playoff wars.

"He brings toughness, he brings leadership, he brings championship experience," Thunder coach Scott Brooks said. "He talks to the guys. He's the kind of guy who you don't look at his stats; you look at the little things he does. He's a winner -- he does the little things that help you win.

"Those are the things you don't see on the stat sheet, but as you watch film, you understand he brings it every time down the court."

While the Celtics search for the selflessness than defined their 2008 NBA title and last season's run to the NBA Finals, the Thunder is 5-1 since Perkins entered the lineup. Friday's 111-103 victory over the Wolves ended a string of seven consecutive games in which the Thunder held its opponents under 100 points.

"I've always said we were a good team; we feel we now are a better team that still has work to do," Brooks said. "We're still developing. We still have to get better. But Perks brings a lot of things we need, a lot of things we're excited to have.

"Every team wants to win a championship. We are no different. We are putting the pieces together, and Perk is another important piece we have. He's a young player in this league, and he still has to get better, just like all our young guys do."

  • related content

  • Jerry Zgoda's short takes

    Sunday March 27, 2011

    Cleveland's Christian Eyenga on encountering a knife-wielding fan on the Staples Center court before a game against the Clippers last weekend: "Of course, it scared me. I heard one of...

  • The Wolves' week ahead

    Sunday March 27, 2011

    Today: vs. Boston, 6 p.m. (Ch. 29)

  • get related content delivered to your inbox

  • manage my email subscriptions

ADVERTISEMENT

Toronto - LP: M. Stroman 2 FINAL
Baltimore - WP: W. Chen 5
Washington - WP: S. Strasburg 4 FINAL
Atlanta - LP: E. Santana 2
Miami - WP: S. Dyson 6 FINAL
NY Mets - LP: J. Familia 5
NY Yankees - LP: S. Kelley 0 FINAL
Tampa Bay - WP: J. Peralta 1
Cincinnati - LP: P. Villarreal 0 FINAL
Chicago Cubs - WP: H. Rondon 1
Chicago WSox - LP: J. Petricka 3 FINAL
Kansas City - WP: W. Davis 4
Cleveland - LP: Z. McAllister 1 FINAL
Houston - WP: C. McHugh 3
Detroit - WP: K. Ryan 8 FINAL
Minnesota - LP: C. Fien 6
Los Angeles 11 Bottom 9th Inning
Colorado 3
San Francisco 2 Top 8th Inning
Arizona 6
Seattle 0 Top 7th Inning
LA Angels 8
Philadelphia 0 Top 9th Inning
San Diego 1
Philadelphia 30 FINAL
Indianapolis 27
Tampa Bay 9/18/14 7:25 PM
Atlanta
San Diego 9/21/14 12:00 PM
Buffalo
Dallas 9/21/14 12:00 PM
St. Louis
Washington 9/21/14 12:00 PM
Philadelphia
Houston 9/21/14 12:00 PM
NY Giants
Minnesota 9/21/14 12:00 PM
New Orleans
Tennessee 9/21/14 12:00 PM
Cincinnati
Baltimore 9/21/14 12:00 PM
Cleveland
Green Bay 9/21/14 12:00 PM
Detroit
Indianapolis 9/21/14 12:00 PM
Jacksonville
Oakland 9/21/14 12:00 PM
New England
San Francisco 9/21/14 3:05 PM
Arizona
Denver 9/21/14 3:25 PM
Seattle
Kansas City 9/21/14 3:25 PM
Miami
Pittsburgh 9/21/14 7:30 PM
Carolina
(5) Auburn 9/18/14 6:30 PM
(20) Kansas State
Connecticut 9/19/14 7:00 PM
So Florida
Old Dominion 9/20/14 11:00 AM
Rice
Troy 9/20/14 11:00 AM
(13) Georgia
Georgia Tech 9/20/14 11:00 AM
Virginia Tech
Eastern Mich 9/20/14 11:00 AM
(11) Michigan State
Iowa 9/20/14 11:00 AM
Pittsburgh
Bowling Green 9/20/14 11:00 AM
(19) Wisconsin
Maryland 9/20/14 11:30 AM
Syracuse
Tulane 9/20/14 11:30 AM
Duke
Hawaii 9/20/14 1:00 PM
Colorado
Marshall 9/20/14 1:00 PM
Akron
North Carolina 9/20/14 2:30 PM
East Carolina
Army 9/20/14 2:30 PM
Wake Forest
Virginia 9/20/14 2:30 PM
(21) BYU
(6) Texas A&M 9/20/14 2:30 PM
SMU
Rutgers 9/20/14 2:30 PM
Navy
Central Mich 9/20/14 2:30 PM
Kansas
Utah 9/20/14 2:30 PM
Michigan
Florida 9/20/14 2:30 PM
(3) Alabama
Louisville 9/20/14 2:30 PM
FIU
Fla Atlantic 9/20/14 3:00 PM
Wyoming
Indiana 9/20/14 3:00 PM
(18) Missouri
San Jose St 9/20/14 3:00 PM
Minnesota
Texas State 9/20/14 3:00 PM
Illinois
Massachusetts 9/20/14 3:00 PM
Penn State
Georgia State 9/20/14 5:00 PM
Washington
Appalachian St 9/20/14 6:00 PM
Southern Miss
Miss State 9/20/14 6:00 PM
(8) LSU
Northern Ill 9/20/14 6:00 PM
Arkansas
Middle Tennessee 9/20/14 6:00 PM
Memphis
Utah State 9/20/14 6:00 PM
Arkansas State
Miami-Ohio 9/20/14 6:00 PM
Cincinnati
Idaho 9/20/14 6:00 PM
Ohio U
Ball State 9/20/14 6:00 PM
Toledo
(14) So Carolina 9/20/14 6:30 PM
Vanderbilt
(4) Oklahoma 9/20/14 6:30 PM
West Virginia
Ga Southern 9/20/14 6:30 PM
South Alabama
UNLV 9/20/14 7:00 PM
Houston
(22) Clemson 9/20/14 7:00 PM
(1) Florida State
Miami-Florida 9/20/14 7:00 PM
(24) Nebraska
New Mexico 9/20/14 7:00 PM
New Mexico St
California 9/20/14 9:00 PM
Arizona
Louisiana 9/20/14 9:30 PM
Boise State
(2) Oregon 9/20/14 9:30 PM
Washington St
San Diego St 9/20/14 9:30 PM
Oregon State
Toronto 9/19/14 9:00 PM
Brt Columbia
Edmonton 9/20/14 6:00 PM
Hamilton
Calgary 9/21/14 12:00 PM
Montreal
Ottawa 9/21/14 3:00 PM
Saskatchewan
Connect with twitterConnect with facebookConnect with Google+Connect with PinterestConnect with PinterestConnect with RssfeedConnect with email newsletters

ADVERTISEMENT

ADVERTISEMENT

ADVERTISEMENT

ADVERTISEMENT

question of the day

Poll: How many games will the Timberwolves win this season?

Weekly Question

ADVERTISEMENT

ADVERTISEMENT

 
Close