What did Keri Hilson do to put a smile on Serge Ibaka’s face?

Serge-Ibaka-Keri-HilsonNot too long ago, Serge Ibaka was feeling down in the dumps and wondering if he would be able to help the Oklahoma City Thunder again this postseason. Ibaka returned to the Thunder lineup on Sunday night, scoring 15 points and grabbing seven rebounds in an absolute must-win game. He also blocked four shots. Ibaka called it a “miracle” that he was only out 10 days. His girlfriend Keri Hilson may have helped.

Hilson, an R&B singer, said she flew in from Atlanta as soon as Ibaka injured his calf. The 6-foot-10 forward was not doing well.

“As soon as I heard, I didn’t feel comfortable being anywhere else,” Hilson told USA Today Sports over the weekend. “Even though he didn’t say it, I knew he needed me. I needed to do anything I could to put a smile on his face. He didn’t have a smile on his face all week. It was very hard. It was really hard.”

Hilson said Ibaka’s sister Rachina was just as helpful. Rachina was at the Chesapeake Energy Arena with Hilson on Sunday night embarrassing her brother (in a good way) with her enthusiasm.

[Related: Gregg Popovich cracks a Serge Ibaka joke (Video)]

“He’s one of the most dedicated people I’ve ever seen in any field, one of the most dedicated people I’ve ever been able to witness,” Hilson added. “(Rachina) was as much his nurse as I was. She cooks. I do the TLC and cook a little bit. We had to be there for him.”

Had the Thunder lost on Sunday, the series would be over. Thanks in large part to Ibaka’s speedy recovery, Oklahoma City still has a pulse. Having a significant other like Hilson probably helps the healing process.

Serge Ibaka likely out for postseason with calf injury (Video)

Serge IbakaThe Oklahoma City Thunder said Friday that defensive star Serge Ibaka is expected to miss the rest of the postseason with a calf injury. The severity/extent of Ibaka’s calf injury is not known, but it has to be pretty darn bad for them to announce that.

The Thunder beat the Clippers on Thursday night to advance to the Western Conference finals. Ibaka left after suffering the calf injury on the play seen above.

This is the second season in a row where the Thunder suffered a major injury that will severely hurt their title chances. It’s between them and the Spurs for the Western Conference, and they had a good shot at taking it all. Now they have to hope Nick Collison can get the job done on the interior, though it will be extremely difficult for him to do what Ibaka did.

What a tough break for OKC.

Video via Anthony Slater

DeAndre Jordan posterizes Serge Ibaka on alley-oop (GIF)

DeAndre-Jordan-posterizes-Serge-IbakaDeAndre Jordan has not been very nice to Serge Ibaka over the past month or so. When the Los Angeles Clippers and Oklahoma City Thunder met last month, Jordan dunked all over Ibaka. He did it again on Sunday, this time with the stakes a bit higher.

Chris Paul cut to the lane and found Jordan with a beautiful alley-oop pass, and Ibaka was late to rotate over. He had no choice but to foul Jordan, but all that did was embarrass him further. Ibaka fell to the floor and Jordan finished the play anyway.

Earlier in the game, Ibaka accidentally punched Blake Griffin directly in the nuts. Maybe Jordan was just getting even for his teammate.

GIF via @cjzero

Serge Ibaka hits Blake Griffin in the nuts (GIF)

Serge-Ibaka-Blake-Griffin-nutsIt took Blake Griffin less than a minute to get nailed where the sun don’t shine in Game 4 against the Oklahoma City Thunder on Sunday. Griffin made a move to the basket against Serge Ibaka and couldn’t finish, but it wasn’t the missed layup he was left thinking about.

Ibaka fell into teammate Kendrick Perkins and Perkins shoved off of him to try to get position. Ibaka lost his balance and ended up punching Griffin directly in the nuts. Griffin stayed down for a few seconds but was able to shake it off.

We’ve (unfortunately) seen plenty of nut shots over the years, and that was one of the worst. Ibaka didn’t do it on purpose, but it looked very painful. Somebody get the Griff man an ice pack.

GIF via GIFD Sports

Serge Ibaka, Matt Barnes ejected for shoving match (Video)

Serge Ibaka Matt BarnesSerge Ibaka and Matt Barnes were ejected late in the second quarter of the Oklahoma City Thunder-Los Angeles Clippers game on Wednesday night for their roles in a minor skirmish, while Blake Griffin received a technical foul.

The incident began after Griffin and Ibaka got tied up as Ibaka tried to block Griffin’s putback of a Chris Paul miss. Ibaka tossed Griffin aside because Griffin was holding on to him. Then Matt Barnes got into it by giving a hard shove to Ibaka. A few more shoves were exchanged back-and-forth, but nothing else happened because the referees separated things.

“This is nothing,” announcer Jeff Van Gundy exclaimed.

The referees saw things differently. They tossed Ibaka, who could be heard complaining to the refs about his fate, and they rightfully tossed Barnes.

Recall that Griffin and Ibaka have a history going back to March when Serge punched Blake in the groin. Between their past and Barnes’, refs probably felt they had to act.

Serge Ibaka misses gimme layup to end Game 4 (Video)

Serge IbakaSerge Ibaka missed a gimme layup at the end of Game 4 between the Oklahoma City Thunder and Houston Rockets to seal the 105-103 win for Houston.

Kevin Durant received an inbounds pass and was defended closely by Francisco Garcia. He picked up his dribble with about seven seconds left and the Thunder down by two. He gave the ball to Reggie Jackson, who alertly drove to the hoop and tried throwing up a floater over Omer Asik. Although Jackson appeared to be fouled, no call was made. His ball nicked off the rim and went to Ibaka, who was in perfect position for the putback. Ibaka missed the layup, giving Houston the two-point win.

At least OKC still leads the series 3-1, but they would have liked to finish off the series on Monday.

Here’s a GIF of Ibaka’s reaction to the miss:

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Dwight Howard thinks it’s ‘funny’ he finished 14th for Defensive Player of Year

Dwight Howard had an off year in his first season with the Los Angeles Lakers. He was not the same dominant force that we saw during his eight seasons with the Orlando Magic. In particular, Howard was not given as much recognition for his defensive play.

Howard battled injuries all season long and did not establish himself as a dominant post presence until late in the season. After having won the Defensive Player of the Year for three straight seasons from 2009-2011, Howard finished 14th in the voting this year. He thought that was comical.

“It’s just funny,” he said Wednesday, via Mark Medina of Inside the Lakers. “That’s okay. We got next year and I got a long time. This year’s funny.”

Marc Gasol won the award, as he is widely considered to be the anchor of a Memphis Grizzlies defense that finished first in the NBA with only 89.26 points allowed per game. In his defense (no pun intended), Howard finished the year first in the NBA in rebounds with 12.4 per game and third in blocked shots with 2.45 per game. That being said, it was hardly his best year and the Lakers’ team defense left a lot to be desired.

Howard may be surprised he finished outside the top 10, but he doesn’t think he should have won the award. That doesn’t mean he thinks it went to the right guy, either.

“Serge Ibaka with all the stuff he did this year, he should’ve been the guy to win it this year and last year,” Howard said. “With the stuff he’s done on the defensive end. I thought he was the clear cut winner. But people saw it otherwise. He led the league in blocks. That’s what defense is all about. He led the team and was number one in blocks this year. You can’t play defense without having any shot blockers. He was the No. 1 shot blocker the last two years. That’s great defense right there.”

That may be true, but as Pro Basketball Talk pointed out Howard did not lead the league in blocks the last time he took home the Defensive Player of the Year Award in 2011. Ibaka led the league in total blocks that season as well, so I guess Howard stole one from him just like Gasol did this year. If all goes to plan, Dwight will have a chance to improve upon his ranking of 14th next year in LA.