Kevin Durant was in a giving mood on Saturday night in Philadelphia.
After handing out 10 assists — part of his fifth career triple-double — the Thunder superstar served up one more in the postgame locker room.
His quest to get teammate Serge Ibaka in next month's All-Star game.
“There's so many power forwards and forwards in our conference, so it's tough,” Durant admitted. “But if you're going off record and what Serge has done, his line of work proves it all. He should be in there.”
Ibaka is averaging career-highs in both points (14.7) and rebounds (8.9), while continuing to serve as one of the league's most feared interior defenders.
He blocks 2.5 shots per game, third most in the NBA, and alters a ton more, anchoring a Thunder defense that gives up the third-fewest points per possession (0.988) in the league.
But beyond the numbers, Durant argued, it's the Thunder's success, which has plenty to do with Ibaka's end-to-end play, that should put him over the top.
“These guys keep talking about Portland should get three guys in, Indiana should get three guys in. Well we're the top team in the West right now,” Durant said. “Why can't we get two guys in, if anything? I know Russell (Westbrook) is out and I got named as a starter. So why can't we get another guy in if those teams get three?”
The All-Star reserves will be announced on Thursday. Ibaka's main frontcourt competition includes LaMarcus Aldridge, Dwight Howard, DeMarcus Cousins, Anthony Davis and Nicolas Batum.
“Serge is playing at a high level right now, playing at an All-Star level night in and night out and people don't recognize,” Durant said.
Maybe they will on Thursday.
76ERS COACH PRAISES DURANT
How tough a cover has Durant been lately?
Just check out the postgame quotes from Sixers coach Brett Brown, a well-known defensive mind who seemed perplexed as to how to stop the 6-foot-11 playmaker.
"We try, we get small guys chasing him around, denying him and fronting him. And we get everybody scared because he's Kevin Durant, because he's so long and scores in such a variety of ways,” Brown said. “He is the NBA's hardest player. He's always been an incredibly difficult guard.”
“I gameplanned back in my Spur days,” Brown continued. “How do you guard him? Is it Kawhi Leonard, Manu Ginóbili, Bruce Bowen, whoever? I thought our guys, I thought James (Anderson) was great and you look down and he's got a triple double."
Durant is now averaging 36.5 points, 6.4 rebounds and 6.2 assists in 13 January games.
In his last five games, Durant has scored 198 points (39.6 ppg) on 70-of-107 shooting (65 percent).
STAT OF THE NIGHT
In the last two games, Thabo Sefolosha had a combined 24 points on 9-of-13 shooting. It was only the second time this season he has scored in double-digits back-to-back games.