Thabo Sefolosha inbounded the ball to the team's leading scorer and he went to work. But with Francisco Garcia smothering him, Durant couldn't create enough separation to go for a potential game-winning 3-pointer. He eventually had to pass to Reggie Jackson.
Jackson, after fumbling the pass, had little choice but to attack the basket when the clock showed just four seconds remaining by the time he got the ball under control. After beating his defender, Chandler Parsons, off the dribble, Jackson slithered his way into the paint only to meet Rockets center Omer Asik. The two met in midair. There was heavy contact. Jackson's took the bump and got a shot to the rim anyway.
It fell short.
“I thought Reggie did a good job of attacking,” Brooks said.
Ibaka was left all alone after Jackson forced Asik to step up and challenge the initial shot. But only four-tenths of a second remained when Ibaka got his paws on the rebound. Not nearly enough time to catch, gather and go back up strong.
Ibaka instead batted the ball, almost volleyball style, back at the rim.
It hung on the back left of the rim for what felt like an eternity but in actuality was only a split second before, finally, it fell harmlessly off the cylinder and to the ground.
Ibaka looked sick as the ball trickled away, similar to his reaction in the Thunder's Game 6 loss to the Los Angeles Lakers in the first round of the 2010 playoffs.
“He had a chance to make a play and he didn't,” Brooks said. “I like guys that care about winning and Serge definitely does. He plays with a lot of emotion and a lot of passion. But he's fine today.”
Ibaka insists he'll learn from it.
“The good thing about it is we have one more game (Wednesday),” Ibaka said. “Like I said, for me, that was my first time to be in that position. It didn't happen, so now I know how it feels and I'm going to move on.”