While addressing reporters 75 minutes before tipoff, Los Angeles Lakers coach Mike D'Antoni tried to keep a straight face when asked if he was surprised Thunder power forward Serge Ibaka had not been suspended for Tuesday night's game at Chesapeake Energy Arena.
D'Antoni insisted he wanted OKC to be at full strength.
“I want them all to be there and see where we are, and see where we have to go,” D'Antoni said, trying to gauge exactly where his .500 team stood against one of the league elite teams.
Where the Lakers stood was on the lower end of a 122-105 final as the Thunder improved to 27-4 at home on the season.
OKC (44-16) never trailed and led by as many as 18, but the game actually was much closer than the final. The Thunder closed out the game with a 12-0 run after the Lakers (30-31) had pulled to within 110-105 with 6:14 remaining.
It wasn't known until roughly 5½ hours before Tuesday's 8:40 p.m. start that Ibaka was cleared to play after punching Los Angeles Clippers forward and former Oklahoma standout Blake Griffin in the groin during OKC's 108-104 victory Sunday afternoon at Staples Center.
Rather than being sidelined with a one-game suspension, Ibaka was fined $25,000 and his Flagrant I foul was upgraded to a Flagrant II.
The first basket of the game was a running hook in the lane from Ibaka that bounced high off the rim before going through.
Ibaka finished with 13 points (6 for 8 from the field), six rebounds and two blocked shots in 28:22.
Both blocks came during the same possession 2½ minutes into the game when Ibaka rejected inside attempts from Dwight Howard and then Earl Clark.
Lakers guard Kobe Bryant was asked Sunday night what he would do if Ibaka had struck him in the groin area. “I probably would have smacked him in the mouth,” Bryant said. “I would have dealt with the pain after.”
There were no incidents between Ibaka and Bryant, or Ibaka and anybody, during Tuesday's game.
Thunder All-Star Kevin Durant said he didn't fear anyone retaliating against Ibaka.
“No, I don't think guys are going to retaliate for no reason,” Durant said. “Serge plays physical and everybody knows that. It was an unfortunate play. Serge is not a dirty player. Him and Blake Griffin always battle hard. It was just a tough play. I'm glad nobody was hurt, first off. Serge kept his cool and played well after that.”