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Oklahoma City Thunder: Serge Ibaka shuts down Jameer Nelson in Thunder's win over Magic

Jameer Nelson, the generously-listed 6-foot Orlando Magic point guard, was leading a furious second-half rally when Serge Ibaka stepped up and provided the perfect spark a listless Thunder team needed to hang on for a 117-104 victory on Friday night inside Chesapeake Energy Arena.
by Darnell Mayberry Published: March 15, 2013
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The smallest player on the court was having his way, doing whatever he wanted, whenever his team needed it.

Until Serge Ibaka put a stop to it.

Jameer Nelson, the generously-listed 6-foot Orlando Magic point guard, was leading a furious second-half rally when Ibaka stepped up and provided the perfect spark a listless Thunder team needed to hang on for a 117-104 victory on Friday night inside Chesapeake Energy Arena.

As Nelson knifed his way into the teeth of the Thunder's defense, looking to cut a one-time 27-point deficit to three, Ibaka stepped up and swatted Nelson's layup attempt. The rejection ignited the crowd and pumped life into the Thunder as Thabo Sefolosha recovered the ricochet.

Sefolosha squirted the other way with a streaking Kevin Durant filling the lane. A look-away, cross court pass from Sefolosha to Durant ended in a reverse layup and was the start of a 13-5 run on which the Thunder closed the game.

The victory, however, was overshadowed by the Thunder's inconsistency, a talking point coach Scott Brooks made sure to address after the game.

“Our focus was inconsistent throughout the game,” Brooks said. “We pride ourselves on being more focused throughout the game and every possession but that wasn't the case tonight. It's something that we have to get better with … We missed layups. We missed free throws. Our focus wasn't there throughout the game.”

Oklahoma City got away with it against an Orlando squad that fell to 18-48, the second worst record in basketball.

But the Thunder committed 11 of its 18 turnovers in the second half, missed 14 of 43 free throws and allowed 58 points in the middle quarters. Orlando matched the Thunder with 56 points in the paint and sat on 84 points through three quarters despite coming in averaging just 94.2 points.

“We expect to play well and we expect to play consistent,” Brooks said. “And going into the next game we're going to want better consistency.”

Durant finished with a team-high 26 points, Russell Westbrook scored 23 with six rebounds and six assists and Ibaka added 20 points, six rebounds and three blocked shots. Kevin Martin chipped in 15 points off the bench, and Kendrick Perkins grabbed a team-high 12 rebounds. OKC shot 55.3 percent.

The Thunder held a 39-26 lead after the first quarter, a period in which OKC made 15 of 21 shots (71.4 percent) and closed the frame on a 21-7 run. The 39 points were the most the Thunder has scored in a quarter this season.

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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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