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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

Serge Ibaka trudged to the bench midway through the second quarter, with three fouls and not so much as a shot taken.

Frustration mounted. Sometimes, it doesn't go away. “Sometimes,” Nick Collison said, “guys are out of it” all game long.

But Ibaka's maturation continued Sunday night. He returned in the second half unshackled by his first-half performance.

“Hungry,” Ibaka said. “I was hungry after the first half.”

Ibaka ate well. 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).

“Didn't seem like he missed a shot,” said Blazers coach Terry Stotts. “I can't remember the two he missed.”

And it wasn't like Ibaka was rattling home his jumpers. One swish after another. Ibaka's misses came on a 16-footer early in the third quarter and an air-balled baby hook. Otherwise, he was money.

Ibaka made seven of nine shots in the second half; only one was closer than 13 feet. The rest were jumpers between 13 and 17 feet. Might have been Ibaka's best shooting display since that 11-of-11 playoff game against the Spurs last May.

Four of Russell Westbrook's nine assists came on Ibaka jumpers. “Russell did a good job of finding him,” Scotty Brooks said. “We have some plays to utilize his skill, and he's one of the best midrange shooters in the league.”

And Ibaka's defense was superb, too, although he had to get in line for credit on that. Kendrick Perkins, Collison and Ibaka took turns harassing Portland all-star LaMarcus Aldridge, who came into the game shooting 48 percent for the season and 49.3 percent for his career but made just three of 14 shots Sunday night.

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by Berry Tramel
Berry Tramel, a lifelong Oklahoman, sports fan and newspaper reader, joined The Oklahoman in 1991 and has served as beat writer, assistant sports editor, sports editor and columnist. Tramel grew up reading four daily newspapers — The Oklahoman,...
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