Tag:Serge Ibaka
Posted on: January 5, 2011 6:19 pm
Edited on: January 5, 2011 6:26 pm
 

A closer look at the 4 dunk contest competitors

Posted by Royce Young

So the NBA has made it official. Your four dunkers in this year's Slam Dunk Contest are Blake Griffin, Serge Ibaka, JaVale McGee and Brandon Jennings.

Some see it as a bit of a lackluster crowd and while sans Griffin it's missing a big name, I see it as an intriguing group. Griffin and Ibaka are power finishers, McGee is a stupid athletic seven-footer and Jennings is your classic small guard that can leap. Plus he's left-handed which always makes dunks look a little cooler.

One thing that's somewhat interesting to be is the dunking resumes each bring in though. According to CBSSports.com's very cool tool the Dunk-O-Meter, Griffin leads the league with 81 slams. McGee has 55 which puts him seventh. Ibaka, who plays less, has 41 finishes putting him 13th. And then there's Jennings who on the season, has only two, yes two , dunks.

A dunk contest participant with just two actual dunks. Seems a little strange.

Now Jennings is at a disadvantage because of where he plays. When you're a point guard, you don't have the luxury of standing under the rim just waiting for a guard to set you up for a dunk. So it's natural his number is lower. Russell Westbrook is the top dunking point guard with 25. After that it's Monta Ellis with 17, then John Wall with 10. So it's not like the point guard position really lends to a lot of high-flying finishers.

Plus, the contest isn't about in-game dunking. It's about flying high and showing off, something Jennings is very good at. For instance, Nate Robinson who has taken home the crown a record three times only has one dunk this season. Granted, a lot of people feel like Robinson was a problem in the contest but still, we all know he can dunk. He just hasn't had a lot of opportunity in games.

Consider some of the league's top dunkers. LaMarcus Aldridge is third with 64 crams. Roy Hibbert is in the top 20. I don't think anyone would be all that excited to see either one of those guys in the contest. So obviously it's not about how many dunks you have, it's about how good they are.

Griffin is going to be disappointing. People are expecting so much from him that no matter what, he's not going to be able to live up to their expectations. I think unless he jumps over the jumbotron or makes a dunk from the 3-point line, fans won't be satisfied. This isn't to say Griffin won't be absolutely awesome -- because he will be -- but I'm not sure he's going to give the performance people hope for.

McGee is going to impress people and will most certainly go for a free throw line punch. With his size and length, he'll easily pull it off. Ibaka already has accomplished a free throw line yam and also has one dunk contest title under his belt. Those three come with a pretty good pedigree. It's Jennings who people are wondering about.

But don't let the stats fool you. Jennings may just have two aerial attacks to his name this season but that doesn't mean he won't hold his own.
Posted on: January 5, 2011 1:52 am
Edited on: January 5, 2011 2:09 am
 

Report: Griffin on '11 dunk contest roster

Posted by Royce Young

Ready for your 2011 All-Star weekend dunk contest participants? According to the Los Angeles Times, it'll be a bit of a big man showcase. Blake Griffin heads the field that includes JaVale McGee of the Washington Wizards, Serge Ibaka of the Oklahoma City Thunder and Brandon Jennings of the Milwaukee Bucks.

Griffin has previously said he'd be interested and after a video briefly appeared on his player page on NBA.com with the words "DO NOT PUBLISH" with it, it was pretty much assured that he'd be included.



Jennings has a little local connection as he attended Dominguez High in Compton before he finished his high school career at Oak Hill Academy. Jennings recently suffered a broken right foot and is expected to be out four to six weeks, but he is expected to be healthy for All-Star weekend. A little odd that he's included in the field, I must say. And not just because of the injury.

McGee is absolutely a high-flyer, but he's probably better known for a fairly epic failure on an attempted finish than he is for one of his big dunks. I'm sure he'll attempt the free throw line finish in the contest and with his length, probably pull it off.

One guy that has pulled off the free throw line dunk is Ibaka, who won a European dunk contest while playing in Spain. Ibaka isn't necessarily the flashiest finisher but more of a putback and alley-oop guy. But he's got ridiculous athletic ability and a ton of power. And you know his Thunder teammates will be there with him, so it's not hard to see Russell Westbrook or Kevin Durant joining in somehow in one of his dunks. Westbrook lobbing to Ibaka could make for a very nice slam.

And then of course Griffin. He'll be a huge favorite and not just because of the home field advantage of L.A. He's got the name power and the popularity coming in, but also a ton of dunking ability.

To me, this field strikes me as a no-nonsense group. It's like the league is trying to get back to the roots of the contest and weed out the trickery and prop usage we've seen over the past few years. With this field, I think we're going to get more straightforward dunks than we have in the past. Some have felt the contest has been watered down recently with all the theatrics and extra stuff, so with Ibaka, Griffin, McGee and Jennings, we might just see dunks for a change. Which would be nice.

An official announcement of the dunk contest participants will be this Thursday on TNT before the usual double-header.

Last year there was a dunk-off during the Rookie-Sophomore Challenge, but it looks like we've already got our four. LeBron James said he was torn as to if he should enter, but apparently he's staying out for another year.

The field definitely looks a bit lackluster at first glance as it's missing a big name to go alongside Griffin, but there's potential here. Watching big guys dunk has always been fun and obviously this group has the size flavor. I'm sure some people aren't going to be thrilled, but I think this group is going to surprise people.

Posted on: January 1, 2011 4:44 pm
Edited on: January 1, 2011 4:47 pm
 

Josh Smith blasts Serge Ibaka over late-game dunk

Atlanta Hawks forward Josh Smith took Oklahoma City Thunder big man Serge Ibaka to task for a late-game dunk. Posted by Ben Golliver. josh-smith

Following Oklahoma City's 103-94 home win over Atlanta on Friday, Hawks forward Josh Smith took exception to Thunder big man Serge Ibaka, claiming he violated an unwritten NBA code about running up the score late in a game that has already been decided and with the clock winding out. 

Earlier in the game, Ibaka apparently bit Smith as well, and the combination of the biting incident and the late dunk did not sit well with Smith, who blasted Ibaka in post-game comments to The Oklahoman.
Asked if he was upset by Ibaka’s dunk, or the foul, or both, Smith said, “You know what it was. That’s showing disrespect (dunking the ball). Everybody in the whole league knows you don’t do nothing like that. I talked to Durant about it. He said he would talk to him (Ibaka) about it, and he knew that wasn’t right.
“Everybody knows that’s not proper etiquette, you know what I mean? When you’re at a dinner table, you don’t dig in first when you visit somebody’s home. You relax and see what’s going on. You check everything out before you ever get you a plate. It’s just proper etiquette. You don’t do that.
“We won’t forget that (dunk). We won’t forget something like that.”
The Thunder absolutely broke league-wide etiquette with the play, and Smith is right to call out Ibaka, even if it sounds like sour grapes and will likely be forgotten within days, despite what he said about remembering the move.

The episode is an interesting mile marker for the Thunder, who are no longer just a fun-and-gun young team. Having made the playoffs last year, and on pace to do so again this year, the Thunder really should be conducting themselves as if they have been there before and know what they're doing. That many of their heavy-minutes players, including Ibaka, are still in their early-20s is no longer a worthwhile excuse.

Still, learning how to "win with class" is a good problem to have, especially compared to the alternatives, such as learning to "lose with dignity." Smith made his point, Ibaka surely learned the lesson, and the Thunder move along, having taken another step in the maturation process.
Posted on: December 28, 2010 12:49 pm
Edited on: August 14, 2011 9:52 pm
 

The Game Changer: Blazers finally win in SLC

The Portland Trail Blazers finally won in Salt Lake City, Jason Kidd was one rebound shy of a triple double, Gilbert Arenas hit an incredible buzzer beater, Serge Ibaka had a block-of-the-year candidate, and much more. Posted by Ben Golliver

Each game is made up of elements which help formulate the outcome. Monday through Friday, we'll bring you the elements from the night before's games in our own specialized version of the game recaps. It's not everything that happened, but it's an insight into what lead to the results you'll see in the box scores. This is the Game Changer. 

THE BIG ONE: BLAZERS STEAL ONE IN UTAH

Not since Dec. 2007, when an upstart team led by superstar-in-the-making Brandon Roy was in the midst of a 13-game winning streak, have the Portland Trail Blazers defeated the Utah Jazz at Energy Solutions Arena. On Tuesday, in Roy's continued absence due to knee pain, no less, the Blazers secured their best victory of the season, 96-91.  The Blazers admit ESA is one of their least favorite places to play, but plenty of teams have struggled in Salt Lake. Over the last two seasons, the Jazz were a combined 66-16 at home, losing just eight games at home during both the 2008-2009 and 2009-2010 seasons. Portland's win was Utah's sixth home loss in just 17 home games so far this season, and while the Jazz currently lead the way in a packed Northwest Division race, they'll have to reassert their dominance at home should they want to maintain on their path to a division title. Monday's loss to Portland wasn't heartbreaking, although it did spoil a splendid night from Deron Williams, who finished with 31 points and seemingly couldn't miss. Down the stretch, the Jazz struggled with turnovers and an extra-aggressive Portland defense, which hasn't often been seen this season, made a number of late block shots and deflections. For the Blazers, LaMarcus Aldridge led the way with 26 point, seven rebounds and two blocks, and he continues on a torrid streak in Roy's absence. His game is expanding due to increased touches and, while there have been fits and starts, Aldridge has started to show a new resolve late in games to attack the paint and get buckets. A sweeping hook in the fourth quarter on Monday night had him pounding his chest, and left Blazers fans that have watched him for years enjoying the moment in pleasant surprise.   This was Portland's best win of the season, the first time they have beaten a team that now has 20 or more wins. That it came on the road in a tough environment only makes it that much sweeter. 

GO-GO-GADGET LINES OF THE NIGHT:

Andray Blatche: 17 points, 14 rebounds, two assists, three steals, two blocks in 37 minutes in a Washington Wizards road loss to the Houston Rockets. It was Blatche's first game back from a suspension for fighting with teammate JaVale McGee. Jason Kidd: 10 points, nine rebounds, 10 assists, and four steals in 36 minutes in a Dallas Mavericks road win over the Oklahoma City Thunder. Chris Paul: 22 points, six rebounds, 13 assists, and five steals in 41 minutes in a New Orleans Hornets road loss to the Minnesota Timberwolves. Deron Williams: 31 points, six assists, three rebounds, one steal in 38 minutes in a Utah Jazz home loss to the Portland Trail Blazers.

DON'T MISS:

OLD FRIENDS:

Utah Jazz guard Deron Williams and former teammate Wesley Matthews, who signed a mega-contract with the Portland Trail Blazers last summer, catch up during Monday night's game in Salt Lake City. It was Matthews' first regular season return trip to Salt Lake City since signing with Utah's division rival and he was met with a standing ovation. williams-matthews

WHIMSY:

Gilbert Arenas hit an unreal 3/4 court buzzer beater off the scoreboard. You must watch it.

GET THAT OUT OF HERE:

Oklahoma City Thunder big man Serge Ibaka rejects Dallas Mavericks big man Tyson Chandler in stone cold fashion. Cue the tape, via 20sadecebirmahluk on YouTube.

FINAL THOUGHT:

Mike Breen, Jeff Van Gundy and Mark Jackson were named by Sports Illustrated as this year's best three-man booth. Mama, there goes that man to the podium with his acceptance speech.
Posted on: November 15, 2010 11:21 am
 

Game Changer: The Suns were hot

Posted by Royce Young

Each game is made up of elements which help formulate the outcome. Monday through Friday, we'll bring you the elements from the night before's games in our own specialized version of the game recaps. It's not everything that happened, but it's an insight into what lead to the results you'll see in the box scores. This is the Game Changer.

THE BIG ONE: Suns SHINE FROM DEEP

The Suns scored 121 points against the Lakers Sunday night. That part is impressive. More impressive? That 66 of those points came from 3-point range.

Chew on this: Phoenix took 40 3-pointers against the Lakers and hit, wait for it, 22 of them. Before you ask, no it's not an NBA record. That's held by the Magic who hit 23 in 2009. But the 22 is a Phoenix franchise record and it's also dang impressive, so that's something.

Here are the cliffnotes on the shooting show:
  • Six players made 3-pointers
  • Grant Hill was the only player to attempt a 3 and miss it, going 0-1
  • The Suns went 13-19... from the free throw line
  • The Suns made 43 baskets, with of course 22 of them being from 3
Not often do you see a team lose a game with 68 points in the paint to their opponents 28. Because that was the difference between the Lakers and Suns. But it doesn't matter how good you shoot it in close when the other guy is hitting the shot that counts for one more point.

But this is the second consecutive loss for the Lakers and a big win to push the Suns to 5-4. No reason to worry for L.A., but the fact that you even gave up 40 looks at 3 is something to raise an eyebrow at. The perimeter defense is lacking at this moment and really, the defense in general. The Nuggets exposed the Lakers on that end Friday night in L.A.'s first loss and then Sunday the Suns dropped 121.

Obviously, Phoenix winning is something for the Suns to be excited about and to build on. But the way they won isn't much to think about. You're not going 22-40 from 3-point range very often. And you're not winning pretty much ever being outscored in the paint by 40 points.

But on Sunday night, the Suns were hot and that Heat from the outside is what they rode to a big win over the Lakers.

GO-GO-GADGET LINES:

Jason Richardson gets the gold star for the night with 35 points including 7-10 from 3. That's some shootin' right there.

Can't overlook Al Horford's big night against the Wolves as the newly paid Hawk went for 28 on 9-14 shooting and pulled in 10 rebounds for good measure.

Just 22 and 17 for Kevin Love against the Hawks Sunday. What's the deal man?

INFORMATION HERE:

Via John Schuhmann: "A team has hit 20 or more threes in a game 5 times (3 by PHX). The previous 4 all won the game by an avg. of 27.3 pts & by no fewer than 18."

DON'T MISS:

A GAME SUMMED UP IN DOTS:

Peep the shot chart for the Suns against the Lakers. It's not something you see very often.


SERGE I-SMASH-A:



Follow F&R on Twitter at @CBSSportsNBA and check out our RSS feed . This has been your daily edition of the Game Changer.
Posted on: October 28, 2010 12:03 pm
Edited on: October 28, 2010 12:28 pm
 

Young, smart and hungry: Westbrook leads Thunder

The Thunder are young, but don't overlook the smart, efficient way they play and how that helped them to a big opening night win over the Bulls on Wednesday.
Posted by Matt Moore


Kids these days. One minute they're struggling to win games against bottom-feeders and the next they're rolling out a huge win in front of a raucous crowd with a combination of stout defense and efficient offense. If there was any question about whether the Oklahoma City Thunder were really grown up; last night they answered that question with finality in their 106-95 win over the Bulls. It wasn't just the win over a tough, gritty, talented Bulls team that even without Carlos Boozer is loaded with talent and expected to contend in the East, it was the way they did it. And that started with Russell Westbrook.

While Kevin Durant led the team with 30 points, as he will nearly every single night, he did it on just 9-of-24 shooting. On the other side of the aisle, the Bulls' leading superstar, Derrick Rose, was even less efficient, launching 31 shots with only 12 makes. That's 39% for a player who was expected to have a much-improved jumper. For Westbrook? Try 28 points on 8-of-15 shooting and 12 of 13 from the stripe. Throw in 10 rebounds, six assists, three steals, and a block (and an acceptable three turnovers considering his usage)? You've got a masterful performance that should put Westbrook in the talks of the elite point guards in the league.

Westbrook wasn't just blinding with his speed, he was patient and deliberate when the situation called for it. It's been this progression since his rookie season two years ago that has brought him to stardom. Well, that and his insane athleticism and uncanny ability to both see the floor and attack opportunities to get his own buckets. It's the complete nature of his game, including his spacing defensively and intensity that makes him so dangerous ... and at such a young age (Westbrook turns 22 next month).

Coach Scott Brooks spoke strongly about Westbrook's performance after the game (as told to CBSSports.com's Royce Young): “I hoped we would start making some shots and we did, but I thought Russell did a great job of leading us, controlling the game, picking his spots and figuring out where they needed the ball. He filled up the stat sheet and that’s what we like about Russell. He’s not a one-dimensional player.”

But of course, Westbrook, forever the second fiddle to Durant, will be looked over. Just as some will continue to look over the Thunder, even as conversely the hype continues to grow and they thrive as one of the most fun teams in the league. Don't believe me? Watch the Thunder in transition. According to Synergy Sports, the Thunder were 10 of 13 in transition last night, getting points 78% of the time. It's a high efficiency opportunity but the Thunder took it to its furthest extent. And they were just as good on the other side of the ball.

While Westbrook and company were harassing Rose into a 12-of-31 shooting night, Oklahoma City poured it on defensively across the Bulls. While an 11-point win doesn't look overwhelming, the Thunder held the Bulls to a 96 efficiency (96 points scored per 100 estimated possessions; need to be above 100 to be "good" in this category) while logging a 107 themselves. The Thunder got to the stripe by forcing the issue (47 free throws to only 22 for the Bulls: thanks home-court advantage!), and held the Bulls to 14% shooting from the perimeter.

Those are numbers. In execution, the Thunder were always attacking and then pulsing back on defense. With the Bulls missing Carlos Boozer, there was no need for the frontcourt depth of OKC to rear its head. Coach Scott Brooks only went to a nine-man rotation, and Serge Ibaka was the only real "big" off the bench. Then again, with Ibaka bringing 8 points, 9 rebounds, and 4 blocks in 31 minutes, Brooks didn't really need to turn to Cole Aldrich or Byron Mullens (Nick Collison is out with an injury).

For the Bulls, things looked eerily similar to last season. Unable to spread the floor with shooters, Rose was harassed by multiple defenders, Noah a beast but the bench a no-show. Each team shot exactly 45 jumpers, and the Bulls actually had a higher effective field goal percentage (eFG%, weighing 3-point attempts), and were better on the offensive glass. But the Thunder turned transition opportunities into layups and got to the line at will. With the Bulls aiming for long jumpers and a silent 3-point attack, this is the result.

The Thunder are exciting. They've got highlights (like this one , good night, nurse). But they're also very smart, and that starts with Russell Westbrook. They play with emotion but they play with control. And if the Thunder are looking to take the next step in their rise to NBA championship contention, this was a solid first step. Teacher's pets, I suppose.

Posted on: October 24, 2010 2:38 pm
Edited on: October 24, 2010 2:39 pm
 

Nick Collison will miss start of season for OKC

Posted by Royce Young

Last season, the Oklahoma City Thunder famously skirted by without any real injury issues. Though already without even playing a game yet, the Thunder's frontcourt depth has taken a hit.

Veteran forward Nick Collison will likely miss the first three weeks of the season reports John Rohde of The Oklahoman. Collison is fighting some lingering effects from a lower left leg stress reaction. It's really just a pain issue and Collison said he could probably play through it, but with the season just starting, he's playing it smart so that maybe he doesn't feel any effects later on in the year.

"It’s a tough injury because I feel pretty good walking around," Collison told the paper. "It’s not a question of if I can play right now. I play through pain all the time. Guys always do it. I could play through the pain right now, but if I start to grind on it when it’s not healed yet, there’s going to come a point where it starts to go back downhill, and that means I would have to sit out long term. I’m just trying to wait until the bone heals.”

Collison has yet to practice and basically all he's done so far is some aquatic training other than the usual ball-handling and shooting stuff. He said he's in decent shape already but upon his return, he'll likely have to be worked in.

As for the Thunder, Scott Brooks really prefers a nine-man rotation and Collison was a major part of that. With his absence, rookie Cole Aldrich will likely get an early opportunity to showcase his ability. Explosive big man Serge Ibaka will see more time than usual and potentially even a player like D.J. White could see time if Aldrich isn't ready.

It's by no means a major blow to the Thunder and last season, OKC dealt with some players like Collison, Krstic and James Harden missing a few games. But having a key rotation guy battling an injury that could nag him for the season isn't what you're looking for before you even play a real game.
Posted on: October 11, 2010 11:51 am
Edited on: October 11, 2010 12:05 pm
 

Kevin Durant is playing all five positions

Posted by Royce Young

Look out, NBA. It's beginning to sound like The Durantula is nearly fully operational.

Kevin Durant has worked hard - very hard - at improving his overall game. He was known as a scorer coming into the league but two years ago, he committed to getting better defensively. And he did. Then this past summer is was about passing and handling the ball. And by all accounts, he's starting to round out.

For instance, last season, Durant played a good amount of power forward as well as his normal small forward and some shooting guard. Over the summer in Turkey, Coach K used Durant some at center. And Friday against the Heat, Durant played all five positions. That's right, from 6'10 small forward to a 6'10 point guard. Scary.

"I think that I have an advantage with my quickness against some (power forwards)," Durant told The Oklahoman. "It's going to be tougher for me on the defensive end because they're stronger and bigger than me... But I just got to make up for being skinny with my heart. And with me being a point guard... I got to try to make the right play. I'm still working on that. I've got to watch more film to try to make the right play. But all I can say is I'm going to try to work on it."

One of the things Sam Presti has worked very hard to do in Oklahoma City is to create a breathing roster, that's flexible and versatile at every position. He wants players that can move and flow within multiple positions. Russell Westbrook can play both guard spots. Jeff Green can play both forwards. Serge Ibaka can play power forward and center. Thabo Sefolosha goes between multiple spots. And Durant can evidently handle all five.

What's the benefit of this for the Thunder? For starters, matchups. How does an opponent go about lining up against a group of Durant, James Harden, Green, Ibaka and Cole Aldrich? Or what about a linuep with Russell Westbrook, Harden, Green, Ibaka, Durant? Or the fact that Scott Brooks could potentially flip Durant from the point to the post on alternating possessions. That makes this Thunder team a tough group to gameplan for.

Of course this isn't a good thing if Durant's not effective. Against the Heat, KD wasn't all that wonderful playing the 5. He's a little light on the muscular fortitude to be completely capable of pushing against Andrew Bynum or Dwight Howard. But still, OKC has that option.

Positionality has been a fun discussion amongst NBA people over the past few seasons. Is there really a need for defined positions? What is a power forward? What really is a point guard? Does it even matter? And with the Thunder, they're just taking that and turning it around. Sure, there are positions. Our guys just happen to play all five of them.
 
 
 
 
The views expressed in this blog are solely those of the author and do not reflect the views of CBS Sports or CBSSports.com