It was a performance for the ages, yet now it's a night that Serge Ibaka would rather forget.
“I know it was an incredible performance,” Ibaka sheepishly admits. “But I don't think it's good for me to keep thinking about…I think about it more as a game we won. It was big for us.”
It was June 2, the night Ibaka put on a perfect shooting display in Game 4 of the Western Conference Finals.
The Thunder's power forward stunned the Spurs by scoring a playoff career-high 26 points on 11 of 11 shooting.
“We needed every basket,” said Thunder coach Scott Brooks. “If he was 10-for-11, we might not have won.”
The Thunder clinched a 109-103 win that night, evening the series at two games apiece and gaining enough momentum to knock out the Spurs and set up an NBA Finals showdown with Miami.
Ibaka finished one made field goal shy of tying the NBA postseason record for most field goals made without a miss. Larry McNeill went 12-for-12 in 1975. Scott Wedman in 1985 went 11-for-11, the only other player in NBA playoff history to do so.
“I didn't know (during the game),” Ibaka said of his flawless accuracy. “I just kept shooting. I had confidence. I was hot. And my teammates…kept passing the ball and I kept shooting.”
And shooting…and shooting.
“And he made tough shots,” Brooks said. “He made shots with guys in his face. He made jump shots. He made inside shots. They weren't all gimmes.”
You could see Ibaka grow more confident as he canned each shot.
He pointed to Kendrick Perkins after the first basket, thanking his teammate for the assist.
He clapped his hands with a more determined look while backpedaling on defense after his third make, his second straight jumper.
He flashed his patented “Air Congo” wings after his fourth bucket, a dunk set up by Derek Fisher.
He left his follow through hanging just a tad longer after knocking down his sixth field goal, a baseline jumper set up by Kevin Durant.
By the time he popped the front of his jersey, enlarging the “THUNDER” emblazoned across his chest following his eighth straight field goal, Ibaka had long passed confident. He was unconscious.
“He was relaxed and settled in and did what we needed him to do,” Perkins said. “But I thought we got him the ball early, which got him some easy buckets and got him going which will help anybody's confidence.”
Ibaka had one field goal in the opening quarter, five in the second, three in the third and two in the fourth. Nine of his 11 field goals came off assists — three from Durant, two from James Harden and one apiece from Fisher, Perkins, Thabo Sefolosha and Russell Westbrook.