Oklahoma City's Serge Ibaka (9) reacts after hitting a shot in the first half during Game 4 of the Western Conference Finals between the Oklahoma City Thunder and the San Antonio Spurs in the NBA playoffs at the Chesapeake Energy Arena in Oklahoma City, Saturday, June 2, 2012. Photo by Nate Billings, The Oklahoman
Entering Game 4, Ibaka was just 9-for-23 from the field.
“It's a great impact,” said Westbrook of Ibaka hitting midrange shots. “Serge continuously knocked those shots down in the first three quarters. Then, when it was time for Kevin (Durant) to (isolate) and give us what he needs, he has a lot of space. That just shows the commitment that we're making the right play and it worked for us.”
Ibaka finished with 12 points in the second period, making all five of his shots. In the third quarter, Ibaka scored eight points on 3-for-3 shooting. He needed just four points, on 2-for-2 shooting, in the final period thanks to Durant's 18-point barrage, which included 16 straight to carry the Thunder across the finish line.
“Eleven-for-eleven in Game 4 of the conference finals is not easy to do,” said Spurs guard Manu Ginobili. “I understand if he runs the floor for transition dunks or (scores) on drop-offs when we help. That can happen. But he made five to six jumpers, and that's something we were willing to give up. But he was impressive today.”
Ibaka benefited from unselfish ball movement that saw the Thunder tie its season high of 27 assists.
With each shot that swished through the net, Ibaka grew more and more confident.
“After making my (first two) shots I was like, ‘OK, I'll just keep going,’ ” Ibaka said. “Every time I was open they kept passing to me and I shot the ball.”
And never missed.