Kendrick Perkins lingered in the backcourt while his teammates sped the ball upcourt.

Happened a lot last season. But that was because of Perk's sore knee. This was because he wanted a piece of referee Bill Kennedy's time.

Don't know what Gran Torino said, but it was mean enough that Kennedy felt compelled to ask Thunder coach Scotty Brooks for backup.

Good luck with that. Foreman Scotty was in no mood to tell Perkins to cool it. Not with Perk playing championship-level defense on Dwight Howard.

"We don't want to calm down Perk," Brooks said. "We like him a little angry. We like him mad at his opponent."

Stay mad, Perk. Stay very mad.

The Thunder bounced Orlando 97-89 Sunday night in one of the NBA's five Christmas openers, and the reasons were many.

Kevin Durant's 30 efficient points. More superb play from the B Team. More emergence of James Harden as a budding star.

But the No. 1 reason was Perkins' defense on Howard. The NBA's best center had just 11 points on 4-of-12 shooting. And it gets better. Three of Howard's baskets came in the first 3:37 of the game.