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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.

Kobe Bryant on Serge Ibaka chopping Blake Griffin’s groin: I would have smacked him in the mouth

Serge Ibaka Blake GriffinLeave it to the venom-spitting Black Mamba to put the Serge Ibaka-Blake Griffin incident into proper perspective.

When asked about Ibaka’s chop to Griffin’s groin Sunday during the Thunder-Clippers game, Bryant told reporters Monday how he would have reacted.

“I probably would have smacked him in the mouth,” Bryant said of Ibaka, via Mark Medina of the LA Daily News.

Kobe said he would have dealt with the pain of being hit in the groin afterwards.

Dwight Howard had a very different reaction, joking around like usual.

“You gotta wear a cup,” Howard said.

Typical Dwight.

If the NBA decides to suspend Ibaka, it could help the Lakers, who play at Oklahoma City on Tuesday.

Serge Ibaka says he was not trying to hurt Blake Griffin with groin punch

Serge Ibaka Blake GriffinOklahoma City Thunder forward Serge Ibaka received a flagrant-1 foul on Sunday when he hit Blake Griffin near the groin (video of the play here) during his team’s win over the Los Angeles Clippers. It is unclear whether Ibaka hit Griffin in the man region or not, but it certainly looked like the swing itself was intentional.

After the game, Ibaka insisted that he was not trying to hurt Griffin.

“He hit my hands away,” Ibaka told reporters, via The Oklahoman. “He’s strong, so when he grabs you, your jersey or whatever, and you try to defend yourself and rebound. So maybe you can do some move, not to hurt, (but) just to get good position, but then something happens where you get hurt in the paint. It’s not anything where I want to try to hurt him. I’m not that kind of person. I just try to play hard, and that’s it.

“I just tried to play hard. I really don’t care if someone is dirty or not, that’s not my problem. His game was intense. We all were complaining to the referees (about) some dirty stuff. It’s basketball. We just played. If you can see the replay, you can see he grabbed my jersey first so I wanted to try to defend myself, (but) not to hurt him.”

The two were certainly fighting for position and grabbing at one another while attempting to box out, but it looked like Ibaka took it too far. As we mentioned before, Griffin has become known for flopping so it’s hard to tell if he was really hurt as badly as it appeared.

“I guess it’s a chippy game like that every time we play,” Griffin said. “We’re both pretty physical teams with physical bigs. There was a lot of pushing and all that going on down low.”

The Thunder and Clippers could very well meet in the playoffs in a few months, so we could be in for plenty more post battles and flagrant fouls.

Serge Ibaka hits Blake Griffin by groin (Video)

Serge Ibaka Blake GriffinSerge Ibaka got away with what appeared to be a hit to Blake Griffin’s groin at the end of Oklahoma City’s 108-104 win over the Los Angeles Clippers Sunday.

The two were fighting under the basket for position as Matt Barnes’ 3-pointer from the corner went in with less than two minutes left in the game. As the ball was nearing the basket, Ibaka hit Griffin below the waist.

It’s unclear if Ibaka’s hand landed on Griffin’s thigh or nailed his Captain Winky, but Griffin hit the deck quickly. Griffin is known for flopping, so it’s difficult to base the severity of the chop on his reaction.

The play was reviewed and Ibaka received a flagrant-1 foul. Griffin made one of his two free throws.

Ibaka’s play was dirty and egregious, and he’s lucky to have escaped a flagrant-2 foul which would have resulted in an automatic ejection.

Stephen Jackson fined for threatening Serge Ibaka over Twitter, apologizes

Stephen Jackson was not messing around when he issued a threat to Serge Ibaka over Twitter on Friday night, and now he is paying the price. The NBA fined him $25,000 for his threat.

The Spurs swingman was watching the Thunder-Lakers game and saw Ibaka scuffle with Metta World Peace. The incident must have reminded him about his past run-ins with Ibaka — they had one in last season’s Western Conference Finals and another at the beginning of this season — and it prompted him to threaten the Thunder forward.

We gave Jackson a break on Friday by saying he must have meant it in jest, but we figured a fine was coming. It did.

Jackson also apologized on Sunday. He wrote the following on Instagram:

“I apologize to @sergeibaka, the NBA, and to all my fans for the comments I made. It was unprofessional and childish. I’m not a thug just a man who speaks his mind. It was not appropriate. I do apologize. Only a man can admit when he’s wrong.”

We appreciate that Jackson apologized, but it still doesn’t clear him from doing something that was not only foolish, but offensive. The NBA described his tweet as hostile. It certainly was. I know a lot of people enjoy toughness in the NBA like the old days, but it’s totally inappropriate to threaten to smash a player in his mouth.