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OKC Thunder: Serge Ibaka becomes a consistent force

Thunder forward is averaging 18.6 points and 9.8 rebounds over the past five games.
by Darnell Mayberry Published: November 15, 2013

— Over the past 10 days, Serge Ibaka has strung together the best five-game stretch of his career.

He's averaged 18.6 points, 9.8 rebounds and 2.4 blocked shots while shooting 68.4 percent from the field.

The only thing that could cool his current hot streak was the officials. A crew working the Thunder-Clippers game on Wednesday ejected him, perhaps wrongfully, seconds before halftime following a brief shoving match. His dismissal limited Ibaka to 13 points and two rebounds in 16 minutes.

That just makes Ibaka's statistics in the last five more impressive.

Over that span, Ibaka has posted three double-doubles and registered two games of at least 25 points, including a career-high 27 points Thursday at Golden State.

“He's been doing well because he's letting the game come to him,” said Thunder forward Kevin Durant.

“He's just playing off of everybody else, and when he does that, he's unstoppable.”

Or reliable at the very least, which is all the Thunder truly needs.

After shooting just 27.5 percent and failing to score in double digits in his first three games, Ibaka appears to be figuring out how to be a consistent force. More importantly, the production he's given the Thunder in these past five games has provided a reason to believe Ibaka can blossom into the third scorer the Thunder sought and sorely needed coming into this season.

“I'm getting my rhythm back right now, and I will just keep playing the way I've been playing the last couple of games,” said Ibaka, adding that he had to remain focused and patient during his slow start. “I know I've been working hard all summer, and I was thinking one day, all my work I did will pay off. And right now, it's starting to pay off.”

So is the Thunder's investment.

Last summer, Ibaka was rewarded with a four-year, $49 million contract extension that kicked in this season. The deal was criticized by some from the start, and the skeptics multiplied when James Harden was traded. Many assumed that by signing Ibaka first, the Thunder threw away a chance at retaining Harden. That never was the case, as the team tried to sign both players.

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by Darnell Mayberry
OKC Thunder Senior Reporter
Darnell Mayberry grew up in Langston, Okla. and is now in his third stint in the Sooner state. After a year and a half at Bishop McGuinness High, he finished his prep years in Falls Church, Va., before graduating from Norfolk State University in...
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