Power Serge: Ibaka Shines As OKC Blows Out Spurs

Monday, December 17th 2012, 11:50 pm
By: News 9

If you were looking for a signature victory in Oklahoma City's NBA-best 11-game winning streak, Monday night's thumping of the San Antonio Spurs certainly fits the mold.

Oklahoma City battled the Spurs in a back-and-forth first half before running away with the contest en route to a comfortable 107-93 victory.

Serge Ibaka had what Thunder color analyst Grant Long accurately referred to as a ‘man-sized' game, once again showing how much of a matchup issue he poses for San Antonio.

Ibaka was the focal point of the Thunder offense in the first half, scoring 16 points on 7-of-8 shooting in the opening half. He ended up tying his career high with 25 points and also set a season-best mark with 17 rebounds, tallying three blocks in the process.

His highlight play of the game came with the Thunder's lead floundering a bit. With OKC up 10, Nick Collison grabbed an offensive rebound with three minutes remaining in the game and fed Ibaka underneath for a massive two-handed slam that ended with his signature ‘Air Congo' celebration, sending Chesapeake Energy Arena into a frenzy. The dunk tied Ibaka's career high and gave OKC the needed jolt to seal the victory down the stretch.

Ibaka also helped lead a charge by Oklahoma City in the third quarter when the Thunder went on an 11-0 run that helped OKC blow the lead open to as many as 18 points.

Oklahoma City also got big performances from Kevin Durant, Russell Westbrook and Kevin Martin as the Thunder avenged a season-opening loss to the Spurs.

Westbrook scored 22 points on 6-of-18 shooting with six rebounds and nine assists, outshining Tony Parker in the point guard dual. Parker finished with 14 points and seven assists on 4-of-11 shooting.

Martin had another torrid shooting performance, scoring 20 points to lead the Thunder's second unit. Martin connected on 7-of-10 shots, including 3-of-5 from 3. Durant had a low-scoring outing by his standards with 19 points but he was effective needing just 13 shots. He was also 7-for-7 from the foul line.

OKC was the aggressor in this game from the start, dictating the flow of the game by getting out on the break and forcing the issue in the paint. The Thunder made more free throws (27) than San Antonio even attempted (21), leading to a plus-12 scoring margin from the foul line.

The Thunder also dominated the glass, which is a rarity against the Spurs. The duo of Ibaka and Collison terrorized the Spurs on the boards with Ibaka's 17 rebounds – five of which were offensive – and Collison snagged 10, six were on the offensive glass. Overall, OKC outrebounded San Antonio 49-37.

It was a frustrating outing for the Spurs (19-7), who fell two games behind the Thunder in the Western Conference standings and lost for the third time in the past four games.

The Thunder continued to build on its longest winning streak since relocating to Oklahoma City, reaching win No. 11 in a row. OKC's run began with a 116-109 overtime victory at Philadelphia back on Nov. 24. The Thunder is now three wins away from tying the all-time franchise mark of 14 straight, set by the Seattle Sonics in the 1995-96 season. Oklahoma City has the best record in the NBA at 20-4, a full two games better than the New York Knicks and Los Angeles Clippers, who both sit at 18-6.

The Thunder (20-4) heads back on the road looking for revenge against an Atlanta team that beat OKC 104-95 back on Nov. 4. OKC faces Atlanta on Wednesday at 7:30 p.m.