Ibaka makes a statement with Magic
Former Thunder favourite makes a statement with Magic
OKLAHOMA CITY 117
ORLANDO MAGIC 119
Serge Ibaka didn't mince his words when asked what it was like to lift the Orlando Magic to a 119-117 win in his first game back against his former Oklahoma City team.
"I'm not going to lie to you," he said, after the win yesterday morning (Singapore time).
"It felt good."
The 27-year-old Congolese made the most of his return to Oklahoma City, scoring 31 points, including the game-winning jumper with 0.4 seconds left.
"Everybody was very happy for Serge," teammate Evan Fournier said.
"It was a very important game for him. He probably won't tell you guys this, but I'm pretty sure it was.
"After playing seven years in this city, you want to play good against the city and the team that traded you."
Ibaka finished with 13 of 19 shooting from the field, nine rebounds and four blocks.
Fournier was also on fire, scoring 21 points, while Elfrid Payton added 23 points for Orlando.
After playing for the Thunder for seven years, Ibaka was shipped in the off-season when many around the Thunder believed his skills were in decline.
He went head-to-head with Thunder star Russell Westbrook, who had his third triple-double of the season with 41 points, 16 assists and 12 rebounds.
It was the first time in two years Oklahoma City lost when Westbrook registered a triple-double.
Thunder centre Enes Kanter came off the bench to score 16 points and grab eight rebounds.
Andre Roberson scored 14 points to go with four blocked shots.
In the final minute, the Thunder gave the ball to Westbrook, and Ibaka fouled him while attempting a three-pointer.
He made two-of-three from the foul line and Oklahoma City went up 117-114 with 37 seconds.
It didn't last long as Fournier came down and tied the contest with another three-pointer.
Westbrook tried to put the Thunder ahead with a shot from the free- throw line.
Yesterday morning, it was his ball, with coach Frank Vogel calling a play for him to take the game-winner on his career scoring night.
Ibaka wouldn't be denied. He took the ball, drove baseline and drilled a short jump shot over two Thunder players to win the game.
It was the perfect ending for one of the most faithful servants of the Thunder. - AFP.
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