After registering a career-high and Oklahoma City-era franchise record eight blocks Wednesday night at Minnesota, forward Serge Ibaka moved into sole place of third place in blocks per game at 2.44. Ibaka now trails only Milwaukee's Andrew Bogut (2.6) and Minnesota's Darko Milicic (2.67).
â€œGuys were getting beat, and he was coming from the weak side and getting great blocks,â€ said Kevin Durant. â€œThat's what we're going to need from him. Even though he's not starting like he did for a couple of games, he's coming off the bench giving us good starter minutes. He's been phenomenal for us on the defensive end, and we're kind of feeding off his energy.â€
Ibaka said his production is improving as he continues learning the game.
â€œWhen he plays with that type of defensive focus, we're better defensively,â€ said Thunder coach Scott Brooks.
MULLENS ASSIGNED TO TULSA
Center Byron Mullens has been sent to the Tulsa 66ers, the Thunder-owned NBA D-League franchise. Mullens, the 24th overall pick in 2009, has averaged just 2.8 minutes in five games this season.
But Mullens' assignment is as much about his long-term development as his short-term situation. The Thunder remains committed to the 7-foot center and views its D-League team as a vital resource for its young players. Mullens made great strides a year ago through time spent in Tulsa. Mullens started and played 27 games for the 66ers last season, averaging 15 points and 7.5 rebounds in 31.5 minutes.
SCOUTING THE HORNETS
New Orleans ranks second in opponent points per game, allowing just 91.7 a game. But with Chris Paul and David West, the Hornets have one of the best point guard/power forward duos in the league.
â€œWe have to do a good job of trying to contain Chris Paul, which is hard on all teams that he plays against,â€ Brooks said. â€œWe can't get frustrated with what do because he's seen just about every defense, and he's able to have success.â€
Paul is second in the NBA in assists at 10.5 per game, while West leads the Hornets in scoring at 18.8 points per game.
â€œWe have to do a good job of containing those two and not let any of their other guys be a wild card,â€ Brooks said.
Thunder coach Scott Brooks on Russell Westbrook â€” â€œYou know that he's improved when you think the game he had (Wednesday) night was just another game for Russell. But what he did in that game was not easy. I don't take it for granted what he does every night. And he's pretty consistent.â€