Grizzlies center Marc Gasol was announced as NBA Defensive Player of the Year on Wednesday afternoon, narrowly beating out Miami's LeBron James and Thunder forward Serge Ibaka.
Ibaka led the league in blocked shot per game for the second straight season and in total blocks for the third straight year.
Los Angeles Lakers center Dwight Howard, who won the award three straight seasons (2008-11), said Ibaka should have been this year's “clear-cut” winner.
Thunder teammate Kendrick Perkins tweeted: “I'm not hating but the NBA just give awards away. Serge don't get defensive player of the year. That don't make any sense.”
Ibaka finished runner-up to New York center Tyson Chandler last season.
Ibaka provided further proof for the award by turning in another solid game in the opening-round series against the Houston Rockets, finishing with 12 points (5 for 6 shooting), 11 rebounds and six blocks in Wednesday's 105-102 victory at Chesapeake Energy Arena.
For the series, Ibaka has 29 points, 18 rebounds and nine blocked shots.
“Serge has improved every year like a lot of our guys,” Thunder coach Scott Brooks said.
As the third quarter was about to start, Houston starting point guard Jeremy Lin, grimacing in pain, pulled himself from the lineup with a right shoulder contusion.
He sat the entire second half, and his status for Game 3 on Saturday at 8:30 p.m. is uncertain.
“This is easily the most frustrating thing that's happened this entire season,” Lin told the Houston Chronicle. “I've been healthy all season. The second half of a playoff game, on the road, we're playing well, Game 2, it's just … yeah, it speaks for itself.
“It was fine as I was sitting here at halftime. I tried to run out of the tunnel and couldn't really run. When I did, it would go crazy. We're supposed to just see what happens tomorrow (Thursday), how it feels tomorrow. As long as stuff stops spasming, I'm good. I don't know how any of this stuff works.”
Thunder point guards had a rough go against the Rockets' small lineup.
Russell Westbrook picked up two fouls midway through the first quarter, then backup Reggie Jackson quickly picked up two of his own in less than four minutes on the court.
Instead of going deeper into the bench or risking Westbrook, Brooks kept Jackson on the floor. He responded with two 3-pointers in the last 1:23 of the period.
Alternating sections of blue and white T-shirts were left at each seat in Game 2 at The Peake. … Seated side-by-side were former Oklahoma running back Joe Washington, OU football coach Barry Switzer and former Oklahoma State basketball coaches Eddie Sutton and Sean Sutton. “I keep good company,” Switzer tweeted. … The Thunder and Rockets combined for 70 3-point attempts Wednesday with 35 attempts each. That's 10 more than any other playoff series so far.
Houston coach Kevin McHale, who refused to reveal his starting lineup during his pre-game interview session: “You never know. I don't think I'm under any obligation to tell you guys the truth, am I? I very seldom do to begin with.”