DENVER — Serge Ibaka's contribution in Game 3 was as big as his given name.
Sergeballu LaMu Sayonga Loom Walahas Jonas Hugo Ibaka was key in the Oklahoma City Thunder taking a 3-0 lead in its opening-round playoff series against the Denver Nuggets with a 97-94 victory Saturday night inside the Pepsi Center.
The 21-year-old power forward from the Republic of Congo, the youngest player on the NBA's third-youngest roster, tied a career-high with 22 points, set a career high with 16 rebounds and added blocked four shots, all while rescuing the Thunder from early foul trouble.
“Serge protects the basket,” Thunder coach Scott Brooks said. “He does not like you to score. Really what he does is covers up for our mistakes.
“Serge was terrific. He's one of our players who has continued to develop. He's a very aggressive player. His midrange shot is probably the best on our team. He rebounds. He protects the basket and the great thing I like about him is he comes back hungry every day.
“Every day in practice he gives us effort. He's diligent in his work. Every day, he puts in time. He doesn't take a day off.”
Ibaka certainly didn't take Saturday off while logging 39 minutes, which also tied a career high. He had secured a double-double by halftime with 12 points and 10 rebounds.