By Sekou Smith, NBA.com
HANG TIME HEADQUARTERS – By Any Means Necessary.
That is what it takes to survive and advance in these NBA playoffs. Oklahoma City Thunder coach Scott Brooks knew as much heading into Game 3 of the Western Conference semifinals against the San Antonio Spurs.
So did Serge Ibaka and Caron Butler and Reggie Jackson and the rest of the Thunder.
It was Ibaka, though, who served as the true game changer in this game and perhaps this series.
We’ll know more in another 48 hours …
Thunder get 51 points, 18 rebounds and 10 assists combined from the MVP Kevin Durant and #ForceOfNature Russell Westbrook. But the game ball tonight goes to Ibaka, who has 48 hours to rest, relax and regenerate. The Thunder need another 30 minutes like they got from him Sunday night in Game 4, which is already a candidate for Game of the Year.
This is why the NBA playoffs are so great. So many moves, adjustments and storylines. Dynamics that no one-and-done format can replicate.—
Bradford Doolittle (@bbdoolittle) May 26, 2014
Rewind the tape to 2012 and ask yourself is this the same script or just one game?
OKC has done more than won a game; they found themselves…remind anybody of 2 years ago when they came back from 0-2 to beat Spurs in 6?—
Michael Wilbon (@RealMikeWilbon) May 26, 2014
Serge was huge. But the energy and effort up and down the roster was completely different for the Thunder from the start. #Game4IsTheBigone
Let's be clear, this was OKC forcing the Spurs to miss with their athleticism. Took Spurs out of their clinical execution. 3s were contested—
Nate Duncan (@NateDuncanNBA) May 26, 2014
Standing O for Ibaka, and well-deserved, as he comes out with 3:17 to play and the Thunder up 104-84. (15 pts, 7 rebs and 4 blocks.) Durant had to tell Brooks to get Ibaka out of the game. Somebody better buy Ibaka dinner tonight, too, as he just saved the Thunder’s bacon in this series.
Was that Durant telling Brooks to take out Ibaka?—
John Schuhmann (@johnschuhmann) May 26, 2014
Caron Butler is on the Framily plan tonight in OKC, long distance included!
Is for the six 3-pointers that Manu has knocked down, so far, tonight. #ManuBeingManu
Manu keeps Manuing.—
Paul Flannery (@Pflanns) May 26, 2014
Thanks for making us all feel old! #GetOffMyLawn
Steven Adams was 4 years old when Tim Duncan (who he's guarding) was drafted to the NBA—
Ronnie 2K 2K15 (@Ronnie2K) May 26, 2014
This performance from Serge, is this a one-night, one-game wonder or is this what the Thunder (and Spurs) can expect for the remainder of the series?
Serge now limping as noticeably as he has all night. After that block on Danny Green.—
Jenni Carlson (@JenniCarlson_OK) May 26, 2014
Ibaka is everywhere on defense. He’s contesting shots on the perimeter, swatting them at the rim and even getting dunked on trying to contest a Kawhi Leonard lefty jam.
Gotta give the Serge Protector credit, he’s putting forth an all-world effort under the circumstances.
Looks like OKC is riding first class on Air Congo tonight!—
Bob Rathbun (@BobRathbunTV) May 26, 2014
Your move Kevin Hart!
I had no idea there was a name for it …
Spurs average FG attempt with Serge Ibaka on court: 16.4 feet; off court: 7.8 feet—
ESPN Stats & Info (@ESPNStatsInfo) May 26, 2014
Yes We Can!
U can see this team is totally different with ibaka.—
rudy gobert (@rudygobert15) May 26, 2014
VIDEO: The Serge Protector!
A four-point lead might not be enough. Spurs didn’t even play well and they are down four at the break #CodeRed for the Thunder for the remainder of the night …
How much difference can one man make? #SergeIbaka
Manu and RussWest playing a wicked game of H.O.R.S.E from beyond the 3-point line to finish half.
Westbrook will not be out-swagged.—
Bethlehem Shoals (@freedarko) May 26, 2014
As much as I hate to admit it, Reckless Westbrook has a better chance of helping the Thunder win this game as Relentless Westbrook! #oneinthesame
Thunder need to watch the Pacers-Heat series. Finishing quarters is the difference between a true contender and a pretender …
Feels like the Thunder should be leading by a lot more.—
Seth Davis (@SethDavisHoops) May 26, 2014
If it were only a matter of athleticism …
If you can come up with a more athletic 5 in the NBA than Westbrook, KD, Jackson Lamb & Ibaka I'd like to see it.—
Chris Palmer (@ChrisPalmerNBA) May 26, 2014
And who is supposed tackle this task this time around?
Somebody's gotta settle Westbrook down right now.—
Darnell Mayberry (@DarnellMayberry) May 26, 2014
The next time I stub a toe playing ball or slightly pull a muscle that is supposed to keep me out of the action for a significant amount of time, I want whatever treatment Ibaka had for his calf injury. He looks like normal out there, impacting the game in plenty of ways and showing no signs of letting up.
Ibaka is really jumping well. Modern miracle of science—
BBALLBREAKDOWN (@bballSource) May 26, 2014
All that hype and the first quarter ends the same way Games 1 and 2 did without Ibaka …
I get RussWest being frustrated. I even get him popping off to an official. What I don’t get is him being surprised that another official would take offense (bad call, no call or what have you)!
The only thing worse than Russell Westbrook throwing a temper tantrum is a referee throwing a temper tantrum.—
Not Bill Walton (@NotBillWalton) May 26, 2014
Derek Fisher just had to top Nick Collison and get some stitches of his own. He’ll finish this night with a nice knot upside his head. #wegotableeder
Derek Fisher, did you eat with Nick Collison today?—
Rey-Rey (@TheNoLookPass) May 26, 2014
Best news folks in Oklahoma City have heard all week!
VIDEO: Serge Ibaka’s hot start