In just his second NBA season, Thunder forward Serge Ibaka is on the cusp of leading the league in total blocked shots. Ibaka had 189 entering Monday's game at Sacramento, three more than Washington's JaVale McGee. In Washington's 95-94 win against Boston on Monday, McGee finished with five blocks.
But Ibaka actually upped his lead by swatting six shots in the Thunder's 120-112 win over the Kings. Ibaka had four rejections after halftime.
Now, all Ibaka has to do is maintain his four-block lead over McGee in Wednesday's season finale against Milwaukee. The Wizards play at Cleveland on Wednesday. Orlando's Dwight Howard is third in total blocks but now trails by 10 blocks.
Ibaka won't finish the season as the block leader in per-game blocks. Bucks center Andrew Bogut has 168 blocks through 65 games, giving him a 2.58 average. Ibaka is tied with Howard for third with a 2.4 average.
Still, Ibaka has been somewhat surprised at his success.
“I wasn't thinking about leading the league,” Ibaka said. “I was thinking block shots and see what happens. Blocking shots is part of my job on this team. It's something I like to do, too. I enjoy it every time when I block shots. It just comes natural.”
Ibaka in all likelihood has yet to reach his ceiling as a shot-blocker. With low-post defensive ace Kendrick Perkins next to him, Ibaka has been even more of a force rejecting shots. Since Perkins debuted with the Thunder on March 14, Ibaka has averaged 3.46 blocks in 15 games.
“It's mental,” said Ibaka, who still is just 21. “Every time I'm on the court, I try to block shots. That's where I bring my effort. And when I start to block one, two shots, it gives me more motivation to keep doing it.”
DURANT NAMED PLAYER OF THE WEEK
Kevin Durant was named Western Conference Player of the Week for games played April 4 through April 10. In four games over that span, Durant led the Thunder to a 4-0 record, with wins coming against the Lakers, Clippers and Denver twice.
Durant averaged 30 points and 6.8 rebounds in the week.