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OKC Thunder: Thunder remains confident in Serge Ibaka's shooting

Sports are about what you have done lately, and lately Ibaka inexplicably has struggled to make shots.
BY JOHN ROHDE, Staff Writer, jrohde@opubco.com Published: May 6, 2013

In his first two games this season, Thunder power forward Serge Ibaka shot a combined 5 for 18 (. 278) from the field.

In his last two postseason games, Ibaka has shot a combined 5 for 23 (. 217) from the field.

These bookend performances are not Ibaka's true identity. The man who made 475 of 831 (. 572) shots in between is a far more accurate gauge of the consistently deadly shooter Ibaka has become.

Sports are about what you have done lately, and lately Ibaka inexplicably has struggled to make shots.

Just before the final buzzer sounded in Game 4 against Houston last week, Ibaka missed a put-back bunny off a Reggie Jackson miss that would have sent the game into overtime.

A devastated Ibaka crumbled to the Toyota Center floor as though he had just cost his team Game 7 of the NBA Finals.

“Serge don't get over stuff like that until after the next game,” teammate Kendrick Perkins explained. “One thing you've got to know about him, he's going to come out and be aggressive. You could tell it was still on his mind, it (losing Game 4) was on all of our minds.”

Thunder sixth man Kevin Martin said whenever a teammate is struggling to make shots, moral support quickly follows.

“You want to tell them to just keep on doing what they've been doing all year,” Martin said. “You come in today and work hard and have a better outing tomorrow night.”

Martin was on the receiving end of such treatment after shooting just 1 for 10 from the field in Game 5 against the Rockets, which stung even more because it came in a potential series-clincher that OKC lost in its home arena.

Coincidentally, Ibaka also shot 1 for 10 in Game 1 against Memphis on Sunday at Chesapeake Energy Arena, a game the Thunder was still able to win 93-91. That followed a 4-for-13 shooting night from Ibaka in Game 6 at Houston, another game OKC was able to win.

Therein is the silver lining. In the two games Ibaka has struggled mightily to hit shots, the Thunder has still been victorious.

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