Serge Ibaka returns to power OKC win

Serge Ibaka

Serge Ibaka returned to the Oklahoma City Thunder lineup for Game 3 of their Western Conference Finals series against the San Antonio Spurs and his presence on the court was a big factor in the Thunder’s 106-97 win. He was originally expected to miss the rest of the playoffs with a calf strain and the reverberations of his absence in games one and two were felt by his team. Oklahoma City now trails San Antonio 1-2 in the series.

The Congolese-Spaniard forward-center finished the game with 15 points, 7 rebounds and 4 blocks for his team. The impact of his presence in the paint, not only for his shotblocking prowess but also his ability to alter his opponents’ shots, was felt by the Spurs. He provided the Thunder with that crucial “third threat” that freed up Russell Westbrook and Kevin Durant to let loose and do their damage. Westbrook led the team with 26 points, eight rebounds and seven assists. Kevin Durant ended the game with a double-double, scoring 25 points and grabbed 10 boards. Regular reserve Reggie Jackson, was inserted into the starting five and delivered 15 points and five assists.

Coach Scott Brooks was proud of his team and expressed optimism in what his squad is capable of:

“We bounced back tonight. We always talk about that bounce-back ability and we had that tonight,” Brooks said.

Spurs’ Frenchman point guard Tony Parker had an off night as he was limited to just nine points on 4-of-13 shooting from the field and four assists. Argentinian-Italian star Manu Ginobili was the team’s best performer with 23 points, as he knocked down 6-of-9 shots from beyond the three-point arc. Tim Duncan was his reliable self, scoring 16 points while taking down 8 rebounds.

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