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Serge Ibaka not in Scott Brooks' doghouse

by Darnell Mayberry Modified: January 31, 2011 at 7:26 pm •  Published: January 31, 2011

/articleid/3537050/1/pictures/1360929">Photo - Oklahoma City Thunder forward Serge Ibaka, left, of Republic of Congo, pumps his fist as Portland Trail Blazers guard Brandon Roy, right, walks off the court, at the end of an NBA basketball game in Oklahoma City, Friday, Nov. 12, 2010. Oklahoma City won 110-108. (AP Photo/Sue Ogrocki) ORG XMIT: OKSO113
Oklahoma City Thunder forward Serge Ibaka, left, of Republic of Congo, pumps his fist as Portland Trail Blazers guard Brandon Roy, right, walks off the court, at the end of an NBA basketball game in Oklahoma City, Friday, Nov. 12, 2010. Oklahoma City won 110-108. (AP Photo/Sue Ogrocki) ORG XMIT: OKSO113

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.”

by Darnell Mayberry
OKC Thunder Senior Reporter
Darnell Mayberry grew up in Langston, Okla. and is now in his third stint in the Sooner state. After a year and a half at Bishop McGuinness High, he finished his prep years in Falls Church, Va., before graduating from Norfolk State University in...
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