Kendrick Perkins says he looked himself in the mirror after last playoffs

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Kendrick Perkins is who Kendrick Perkins is. After a decade in the league we all have a pretty good idea what that is.

But after a rough playoffs last season — 2.2 points a game on 26.3 percent shooting with a PER of -0.6 — he became a scapegoat for frustrated Thunder fans. Why would Scott Brooks keep starting him and why wouldn’t GM Sam Presti amnesty him this past summer?

Those questions will get a lot louder of Perkins struggles again this season or in the playoffs — and they are questions worth asking. But it shouldn’t be on Perkins, who is a professional about his game and how he handles himself.

Here is what he told Jeff Caplan of NBA.com about the criticism and working on his game.

“A long time ago KG [Kevin Garnett] told me that there’s nobody in the NBA or nobody in the world that don’t have flaws,” said Perkins, who underwent another arthroscopic right knee surgery during the summer, a minor clean-up as he called it. “So the thing is every offseason you try to clean up your flaws. I definitely went into the gym trying to work on getting my shot up quicker, worked on my touch around the basket. I spent a lot of time in the weight room as far as strengthening my legs and just all-around work. I didn’t take any short cuts around anything and I just addressed any situation.

“But,” Perkins continued, “the first step, you just got to be honest with yourself and look yourself in the mirror and just work on what you need to work on.”

Criticism of Perkins is off base — he simply is who he is. He serves a role as a post defender, the problem is the league is moving away from traditional post bigs for him to defend. He was brought in when the Thunder thought they had to deal with Andrew Bynum and the Lakers, but the league has changed a lot since then and his role is very limited (although he would have one against Memphis and Houston). The league has evolved in another direction.

The issue isn’t Perkins, it’s why Scott Brooks is wed to him as a starting center, one that has to get a few early touches on the block every game. It is the organizational questions the Thunder are going to have to answer if this season doesn’t involve a return to the Finals.

Spurs coach Gregg Popovich: I’ve never seen injury like Kawhi Leonard’s

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Gregg Popovich is a basketball lifer.

He’s the NBA’s most experienced active head coach. Before that, he was the Spurs’ general manager. Before that, he was an NBA assistant. Before that, he was a college head coach and assistant. Before that, he was a college player. Before that, he was a youth player.

The San Antonio coach has seen everything.

Except the right quadriceps tendinopathy suffered by Kawhi Leonard, whom Popovich said more than a week would return “sooner rather than later.” Yet, Leonard still hasn’t played this season.

Popovich, via Michael C. Wright of ESPN:

“Never, never,” Popovich said when asked whether he has seen such a condition hampering one of his players. “What’s really strange is that [point guard] Tony [Parker] has the same injury, but even worse. They had to go operate on his quad tendon and put it back together or whatever they did to it. So to have two guys, that’s pretty incredible. I had never seen it before those guys.”

“I keep saying sooner rather than later,” Popovich said jokingly. “It’s kind of like being a politician. It’s all baloney, doesn’t mean anything.”

The 26-year-old Leonard is one of the NBA’s biggest on-court stars. He might be the league’s best defender, and he has built himself into an offensive force. The Spurs (11-7) have fared fine without him so far, but they’ll need him to accomplish their main goals – this year and beyond.

Hopefully, Leonard’s health is better than it sounds here, because Popovich’s answer sure isn’t encouraging.

Tim Hardaway Jr. calls fallen ref safe rather than defend shot (video)

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The Knicks went on a 28-0 run.

They earned the right to showboat late in their win over the Raptors last night.

Tim Hardaway Jr. called a ref, who slipped on the baseline, safe rather than contest Serge Ibaka‘s 3-pointer. Perfection!

Luc Mbah a Moute sets modern record at +57 in Rockets’ win over Nuggets

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Luc Mbah a Moute is a quietly good player.

He’s an effective and versatile defender. Offensively, he shoots 3-pointers well enough to score efficiently and spread the floor. Most of all, the 31-year-old just understands how to play and plays within himself. His teams tend to perform better when he’s on the floor.

That’s an understatement for Wednesday night.

In a 125-95 win, the Rockets outscored the Nuggets by a whopping 57 points in Mbah a Moute’s 26 minutes. That’s the best single-game plus-minus in the Basketball-Reference database, which dates back to the 2000-01 season. It tops Joe Smith’s +52 in a 2001 Timberwolves win over the Bulls, a 53-point game that also produced a +50 for Wally Szczerbiak and +48 for Terrell Brandon.

Mbah a Moute’s traditional stat line was impressive, though not overly so: 13 points on 5-of-5 shooting with four rebounds, four steals and an assist. He played well, contributing to winning in all the small ways he often does, and the Rockets happened to play excellently around him.

Now, Mbah a Moute tops the leaderboard in single-game plus-minus since 2000-01:

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Did Russell Westbrook get mad at Steven Adams for not taking potential triple-double-clinching shot? (video)

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Russell Westbrook chases triple-doubles.

That hardly makes him unique. He’s just close enough to the feat more often than other players, so he chases them more often.

But he still chases them.

Late in the Thunder’s 108-91 win over the Warriors last night, Westbrook was heading toward his final line of 34 points, 10 rebounds and nine assists. His teammates shot off his passes on three of Oklahoma City’s final four possessions before he took a seat (including one assist). The exception came when he passed to Steven Adams, who passed rather than shoot – clearly upsetting Westbrook.

Was Westbrook mad because he missed his chance at a triple-double? Maybe.

Was Westbrook mad because Adams passed as the shot clock neared expiration? Maybe.

It could be both!

Watch Kevin Durant and Stephen Curry on Golden State’s bench. They clearly found something funny.