Late in the Oklahoma City Thunder-Los Angeles Clippers game yesterday afternoon, Serge Ibaka and Blake Griffin got tangled up in the paint while battling for a rebound.
Griffin had good position on Ibaka and a frustrated Ibaka swung his arm down in a chopping motion toward Griffin.
The result was Ibaka connecting near Griffin’s groin and a flagrant-one foul called on Ibaka.
The Clippers capitalized by scoring seven points on that possession thanks to the call and captured their first lead of the game with 90 seconds to play.
Ibaka responded on the other end for OKC with an and-one layup that put the Thunder back on top and OKC would go on to win the game 108-104.
The foul by Ibaka will be reviewed by the league and many think there is a good chance he will get a suspension for the act.
You can make the case that it was an intentional low-blow but Ibaka is saying he did not intend to hurt Griffin.
If you watch Ibaka’s eyes on the play, they are focused on the rim the entire time and the physical jostling between he and Griffin make it easy to understand that Ibaka was not intending to strike Griffin in that area.
It looks more like a frustration move by Ibaka who had his arm being held by Griffin and wanted to chop it free. He missed Griffin’s arm and instead got him below the belt.
Ibaka has had an edginess to him this season and has shown some of that in the past as well. But there’s never been anything to point to Ibaka being a dirty player.
This was simply a case of Ibaka forgetting where he was at and making a dumb move that ended up looking worse than it really was.
It wasn’t intentional but if you want to suspend Ibaka because he should have known better than to swing that violently in that way then that would be totally understandable.
The Thunder will really need Ibaka in their next game as they take on the Los Angeles Lakers Tuesday night at Chesapeake Energy Arena.