With 20 seconds left in the first half of Tuesday’s exhibition between Spain and Team USA, the Thunder represented four of the 10 players on the court. But as Kevin Durant, Russell Westbrook and James Harden stood opposite of Serge Ibaka on the floor, I couldn’t help but think, could it be some unfortunate foreshadowing?
Harden, Durant and Westbrook on one team. Ibaka on the other. Shudder.
In the end, Team USA pretty much walked over a strong Spanish side 100-78 with Durant scoring 13, Westbrook nine and Harden eight. Ibaka finished with 16, all coming in the first half where he started 8-of-9 from the floor. In the first quarter, Ibaka scored 12, finishing dunk after dunk as the U.S. scrambled.
Things tailed off for Ibaka in the second half largely because the U.S. asserted its talent and Ibaka could get loose. He only attempted two shots in the last 20 minutes. But what he did show was his solid face-up game, a good awareness in the pick-and-roll with Jose Calderon and a couple nice drop-step hook shots in the paint. And most of all, he caught most everything thrown to him.
Ibaka was playing so well in the first half it motivated ESPN.com’s Marc Stein to tweet, “How many teams out there are plotting the max for Ibaka as we speak? This should be the tape his people send to NBA GMs.”
(He did goaltend three shots though, two almost comically in a JaVale McGee sort of way.)
There wasn’t much of anything significant to take away though as KD made some shots, Westbrook played frantic, aggressive defense and Harden knocked down back-to-back 3s late in the fourth.
But more than anything, seeing 40 percent of the floor taken up by Oklahoma City players was cool. Now it’s on to London.