Very rarely in Ibaka's previous 1 1/2 seasons has Brooks had to coach effort. Ibaka, to this point, has been the team's energizer. But Ibaka chalked up Sunday's showing to being simply a bad day.
“Everybody in the league has a bad game sometimes,” Ibaka said. “Kevin Durant is the best scorer in the world. He has a couple of bad games, too. But the next day, he's working hard for the next game. That's what I try to do, too. So we'll see.”
In the meantime, Ibaka won't complain.
“He's the coach. He's the boss,” Ibaka said of Brooks. “So if he says that, I don't want to say nothing. My job is to keep working hard like I do every time and do my best possible.”
Brooks said Ibaka will return to his customary place in the rotation Wednesday against New Orleans. The Hornets, with power forward David West and center Emeka Okafor, present a more traditional frontline that suits Ibaka's skill set.
“They play big, and Serge will get his 28 to 30 minutes,” Brooks said.
Until then, teammates will continue encouraging Ibaka.
“Just tell him to stay focused and always be ready,” said Russell Westbrook. “That's just the life of playing in this league. You've got to be ready each and every night. And if you're not, somebody else will step in and be ready to play.”
After an extended stint on the bench the past two games, Ibaka now knows the way to avoid future benchings is to always be ready to perform.
“It's hard for me. I want to play,” Ibaka said. “I don't come to games to just play. I come to every game ready to play hard.
“I'm not happy to be on the bench. I don't like to be on the bench.”