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Thunder notebook: Serge Ibaka provides big lift

Oklahoma City sends Byron Mullens to Tulsa 66ers
BY DARNELL MAYBERRY, Staff Writer, dmayberry@opubco.com Modified: December 9, 2010 at 11:18 pm •  Published: December 9, 2010
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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).

“Guys were getting beat, and he was coming from the weak side and getting great blocks,” said Kevin Durant. “That'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.”

Ibaka said his production is improving as he continues learning the game.

“When he plays with that type of defensive focus, we're better defensively,” 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.

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