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Oklahoma City Thunder: Serge Ibaka's sensational play a big part of OKC's recent surge

Despite challenging circumstances, Serge Ibaka scored 20 points with six rebounds Friday while helping to put the Thunder in position to have a chance to take a commanding 3-1 series lead in Game 4 on Sunday afternoon.
by Darnell Mayberry Published: May 10, 2014

“I think he’s doing a good job of trying to stay in front of him as much as he can,” Brooks said. “Griffin is doing a good job of hitting shots from the perimeter. That’s one of the things he’s worked on and obviously you see that has improved. But I like what Serge is doing.”

Brooks also complimented Ibaka for keeping his cool in the face of physical play and other forms of gamesmanship that’s going on in this series.

“He’s playing against a very good player, an MVP-type player in Blake Griffin,” Brooks said. “But I think he’s doing a good job of really keeping his composure and not getting involved in all the other things that that can entail.”

Ibaka got baited into a technical foul once in Game 1 after kicking his foot away from Griffin’s legs to free himself. Aside from that, though, Ibaka has played through mind games.

“When I play against him, I don’t really worry what he do or whatever,” Ibaka said. “I just try to do what I can do. I just try to play my game and stay focused. Sometimes I’m going to get foul trouble. Sometimes, you never know. All I can control is what I can do.”

As impressive as anything else has been Ibaka’s ability to be resourceful offensively. He’s averaging 15.3 points in the series on an eye-popping 72.4 percent shooting. He’s done it not by being a focal point of the offense but by making the most of opportunities when the ball is swung his direction, as well as creating a few more scoring chances for himself through sheer hustle.

When the Clippers pulled within one with less than five minutes to play Friday, Ibaka scored on back-to-back possessions by rolling to the basket and finishing a feed from Westbrook and rebounding a missed fadeaway by Durant and converting a putback dunk.

“His mindset has been great,” said Thunder center Kendrick Perkins. “We just need him to keep going.”