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No one in Thunder locker room surprised by Serge Ibaka's playoff performance

BY JOHN ROHDE, Staff Writer, jrohde@opubco.com Modified: April 25, 2011 at 3:04 pm •  Published: April 24, 2011

Ibaka shot 1 for 8 from the field and managed just three points in the series opener, missing five shots from his wheelhouse range. Numerous times Brooks has proclaimed Ibaka to be the team's best jump shooter from the 12- to 18-foot range. Ibaka did contribute five rebounds and four blocks that night, however.

OKC team members said they were not concerned Ibaka might have been overwhelmed by the postseason stage on opening night, and they were right. Ibaka enters Monday night's Game 4 with two straight double-doubles, having finished with 12 points and 12 rebounds in Game 2.

That being said, there also is a good chance Ibaka doesn't fully comprehend the magnitude of the NBA playoffs. He didn't watch the playoffs until he was age 16 and playing ball in Spain.

Even when Ibaka did see NBA footage, it wouldn't be until the summertime, two months or so after the fact.

Though Ibaka still speaks choppy English, less and less seems to be getting lost in translation on the basketball court.

No interpreter was needed for Ibaka to realize his team was early in trouble Saturday after Perkins, Nick Collison and Nazr Mohammed each picked up two fouls in the first quarter.

Ibaka knew the team's focus inside had shifted to him.

"The sky's the limit for him,'' All-Star Kevin Durant said.

Ibaka's progress will continue to be under the watchful eye of others.

"I'm watching how he works," Perkins said. "I'm watching his work ethic, watching how he listens and how he's observing everybody. So it doesn't surprise me when he stepped up big like he did."

John Rohde: 475-3099. John Rohde can be heard Monday-Friday from 6-7 p.m. on The Sports Animal Network, including AM-640 and FM-98.1.


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