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Jenni Carlson: Thunder's Serge Protector blocks nine shots

by Jenni Carlson Published: April 28, 2011

Kenyon Martin flashed down the right side of the floor, the ball in his hands, a clear path to the basket in his sights.

A late-game double-digit lead for the Nuggets seemed sure. A return to Denver for a nail-biting, heart-pounding Game 6 seemed likely.

Serge Ibaka would have none of it.

The Thunder shot swatter swooped in and batted Martin's shot into the luxury seats.

A few seconds later, Ibaka blocked another shot, this one from Nene

The sequence changed the game.

Ended the series, too.

“We love Serge,” Thunder coach Scott Brooks said. “Our guys get excited about what he does.”

Then the boys in blue must've been really pumped Wednesday night. On a night the Thunder wrapped up its first series win since the franchise moved to Oklahoma City, Ibaka blocked nine shots.

In a preseason game, that'd be great.

In a mid-season game, that'd be amazing.

But in the playoffs?

“Serge was unbelievable,” Thunder veteran big man Nazr Mohammed said. “Nine blocks?”

Yes, nine blocks.

“All nine of them were huge for us,” Thunder guard Thabo Sefolosha said. “We feed off of that.”

They clearly did Wednesday night.

After Ibaka's back-to-back blocks on Martin and Nene, something caught fire in the Thunder. Kevin Durant scored three of his awe-inspiring 41 points on the very next possession. It would be the start of an 18-6 run to end the game, and Durant would score 14 of those points.

But those blocks affected the Nuggets just as much as the Thunder.

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by Jenni Carlson
Jenni Carlson, a sports columnist at The Oklahoman since 1999, came by her love of sports honestly. She grew up in a sports-loving family in Kansas. Her dad coached baseball and did color commentary on the radio for the high school football...
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