This season, we have seen more improvement from Perk on the court. He was fouling too much and studied tape and learned what he was doing that caused him to foul and corrected it. He had only 1 foul in his last game.
But more than his online play, he is becoming a vocal leader on this team. Two years ago, Pierce wasn't playing his best game and Perk stepped up in the huddle and called Pierce out telling him to step it up. The kid really had a lot of courage as a second year player standing up to the team's star and telling him to play harder. But it worked and Pierce came back in with a lot more energy.
After our 6th loss, Perk once again stepped up to challenge the team to take pride in their defense and to make a commitment to team play.
“There’s nothing for anyone to point their finger at here,” said a bristling Kendrick Perkins. “It’s not coaching that’s the problem here, and it’s not our offense - it’s us and our commitment.
“If everyone comes in with the same mindset, and isn’t just out there thinking of their offense, then we’ll be all right,” Perkins said. “We can’t win games where a team is shooting 53 percent on us.
“That’s a matter of pride - deciding not to let them take those open shots. I came in with the pride in my defense tonight. I just couldn’t let somebody from the other team get off. We’ll put up points, everyone knows that. But we have to do both - defense and offense. I’m not just talking about pick-and-roll defense, but straight-up defense. All of us, me included, have to get better. You can’t go out there with just two or three guys thinking that way. Everyone has to say, ‘I’m not letting this guy get off.’ ”
He challenged the team to play defense and we won the next three games, mostly because the team committed to playing defense and playing as a team. But Perk didn't just talk it, he set the tone of those three games with his own defense, being a force in the paint and altering a lot of shots.
After this last game, Perk once again is speaking up and challenging his teammates.
"We came out like we already won a championship," said Perkins. "We were too laidback. We came out like we just knew we were going to win, like they were just going to give us the game. . .I didn't think we respected them like we should have. I don't know why. It's just consistency. The things we were doing in the three game winning streak we stopped doing. We started getting on our own agenda."
"No disrespect to the Bobcats, but we should have won that game," said Perkins. "Honest. [That game] was valuable. I don't think people understood how valuable it was."
He is setting an example by playing in pain and by working hard in practice and in games. I truly believe that Al's newfound work ethic is the result of seeing what Perk has done and wanting to follow his lead. He is calling out his teammates and demanding consistency from them. He understands what it takes and is challenging his teammates to play defense.
In spite of having a few veterans on this team in Pierce, Wally, Scal, Kandi, and Ratliff, it is Perk who is standing up and becoming the leader on this team. And, they seem to be listening as they responded with a 3 game win streak based on their defensive play after he called them out after the Orlando game. And Perk doesn't just talk, he backs it up by playing hard and working hard and coming to play every night, in spite of having to play in pain with plantar fasciitis. Hopefully we will see the team respond tonight and come out with more intensity against the Knicks and start a new win streak. Have I mentioned that I love Perk?