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Oklahoma City Thunder: Serge Ibaka's maturation continues

In the Thunder's 103-83 victory over Portland, Ibaka scored 16 points in the second half and blocked more shots (four) than he missed (two).
by Berry Tramel Published: March 24, 2013
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“Perk and Nick did a great job on him in the first half,” said Ibaka, who was saddled with three fouls by the 5:03 mark of the second quarter.

Then down the stretch, when the Thunder took command of this game, Ibaka handled the duties. Aldridge's only basket of the second half drew Portland within 88-83 with six minutes left, but the Blazers never scored again.

In seven games against the Thunder since Perkins arrived 25 months ago from the Celtics, Aldridge had shot over 50 percent, 78 of 154. But the Thunder put the clamps on him Sunday night.

“It's a big deal,” Collison said. “He's a big part of what they're trying to do. We made his shots tough in the post. We guarded him well.”

Ibaka's five blocked shots are part of that. Blazer guard Wes Matthews said “Perkins kind of controls the paint; Serge takes care of stuff at the rim.”

It's a potent defensive combo, and the efficiency doesn't drop off when Collison enters.

That kind of defense can help the Thunder snap out of its recent doldrums. Kevin Durant said the Thunder can build off the defensive momentum shown in the last three games.

And when Ibaka is blocking shots on one end and swishing shots on the other, the Thunder is tough to beat.

Berry Tramel: Berry can be reached at (405) 760-8080 or at btramel@opubco.com. He can be heard Monday through Friday from 4:40-5:20 p.m. on The Sports Animal radio network, including FM-98.1. You can also view his personality page at newsok.com/berrytramel.