Ibaka blocked 6-footer by Carlos Boozer late in the second quarter and in the fourth quarter blocked a 6-footer by Luol Deng and an 8-footer by Joakim Noah.
“As we know, that's some of Serge's problems he's had in the past,” Thunder coach Scott Brooks said. “He's one of the best weakside, off-the-ball shot blockers, but he did those on-the-ball and he stayed down (rather than being coaxed by a head fake).”
Teammate Kevin Durant said Ibaka has always been a solid man-to-man defender, which is why he didn't view Thursday's performance as a surprise.
“Rarely do you see guys blocking a guy's jump shot, hook shots, or things like that,” Durant said. “Usually, you just contest those. But the really great defenders block jump shots and that's what he (Ibaka) did.”
Ibaka is 6-foot-10, weighs 235 pounds and has a 7-foot-4 wingspan. More important, he's a measly 23 years old and already in his fourth NBA season.
“I knew he'd be really good when he got here just because of his ability,” Collison said. “He's always had a nice jump shot and a good feel for the game, so I knew he'd be really good. He's almost a can't-miss guy when you first see him.”
The Thunder selected Ibaka with the 24th pick in the 2008 Draft, the same year OKC chose Russell Westbrook with the No. 4 overall pick. Ibaka chose to play pro ball in Spain for one season before entering the NBA.
“We got a steal, I'll tell you that,” Durant said when asked how good Ibaka could be someday. “We got a steal with that guy. We're just blessed to have him on our team. He's a great teammate first off, but he comes to work every single day and he's getting better.”