OKC Thunder: Serge Ibaka benefits from Kevin Durant's willingness to pass the basketball

For the first time in his career, Ibaka has topped 20 points in three straight games. It's largely been a credit to the rapidly improving two-man game with Durant.
by Darnell Mayberry Published: January 20, 2014


photo - Oklahoma City Thunder forward Serge Ibaka (9) high fives teammate Kevin Durant (35) in the first quarter of an NBA basketball game against the Sacramento Kings in Oklahoma City, Sunday, Jan. 19, 2014. (AP Photo/Sue Ogrocki)
Oklahoma City Thunder forward Serge Ibaka (9) high fives teammate Kevin Durant (35) in the first quarter of an NBA basketball game against the Sacramento Kings in Oklahoma City, Sunday, Jan. 19, 2014. (AP Photo/Sue Ogrocki)

Durant is averaging 7.3 assists in the past three games, and Ibaka has benefited most. Fifteen of Ibaka's 27 assists have come off feeds from Durant.

The chemistry between the two is starting to resemble that of the Westbrook-Ibaka two-man game. And at the very least, it's serving as a suitable temporary replacement until Westbrook returns.

“It's always been there, I think, with us,” Durant said. “Me and Serge, I know his game. He knows mine. I think it's just a matter of us making shots. Once you start making shots, then of course people start to recognize. But I think we've had that chemistry for two or three years now. It's just a matter of us being consistent.

“Of course with Russell there, our two-man game possessions when we play together go down a little bit. But now when he's out, I'm being more of a facilitator for everybody. And me and Serge (are) doing it the most.”

The strategy has kept Ibaka productive as the necessary second scoring option without Westbrook, a player Ibaka has been largely dependent on for generating offense.

Already, Durant has assisted Ibaka on 73 field goals this season. Last season, Durant tallied just 80 assists to Ibaka.

“I like the fact that we can have two-man games with multiple players in it,” said Thunder coach Scott Brooks. “And then obviously with Kevin, he demands a lot of attention. So if you run it with a lot of force, he has to have an extra man guarding, otherwise a (dribble-handoff) or a screen allows him to get by his man.”

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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