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Serge Ibaka made his presence known early — just ask James Harden

Only a few minutes into this playoff series, Ibaka rose up and spiked Harden's shot into The Peake hardwood. It didn't dent the floor, but it sure seemed like it could've.
by Jenni Carlson Published: April 22, 2013

James Harden came around a screen and drove the lane like we've seen him do so many times.

We know how that play usually ends.

But not on this night.

Not with Serge Ibaka standing guard.

Only a few minutes into this playoff series, Ibaka rose up and spiked Harden's shot into The Peake hardwood. It didn't dent the floor, but it sure seemed like it could've.

“I heard him scream a little bit with it,” Thunder big man Kendrick Perkins said.

On a night the Thunder beat the Rockets 120-91 and sent a strong message about the kind of series this will be, no one made a clearer statement than Ibaka.

He played as good an all-around game as anyone in Thunder blue. He was active on defense. He was deadly on offense.

“He played well for them,” Houston coach Kevin McHale said.

That's an understatement.

Check out these numbers: 17 points on 7-of-11 shooting, seven rebounds and three blocked shots.

If Ibaka's going to play this way, this is going to be a short series.

The Rockets have no one to match Ibaka if he replicates what he did Sunday night. They already have their hands full with Kevin Durant and Russell Westbrook, but if Ibaka's going to score like this, so effectively and so efficiently, they have no hope.

Sunday night, he scored on putbacks, being strong with the ball around the rim. He hit jumpers. He even nailed a corner 3-pointer.

“It's just confidence,” Ibaka said. “I work every day, and my teammates did a great job to find me when I was open.”

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by Jenni Carlson
Columnist
Jenni Carlson, a sports columnist at The Oklahoman since 1999, came by her love of sports honestly. She grew up in a sports-loving family in Kansas. Her dad coached baseball and did color commentary on the radio for the high school football...
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