Clippers Big Man Looks Like His Old Self in G League

Serge Ibaka LA Clippers

Getty LA Clippers big man Serge Ibaka takes the ball to the hoop during a game against the Charlotte Hornets.

When Serge Ibaka made his long-awaited return to the LA Clippers on November 7, it was clear he had some work to do. In eight minutes of action against the Hornets, he was 0-of-3 from the floor with five fouls. After the game, Ibaka aptly described his time on the court as “rough.”

Things didn’t look much smoother the next time out, either, when he put up another goose egg in six minutes against the Blazers. Clearly, though, he’s willing to do whatever it takes to build himself back up again.

On November 11, Ibaka did something he had never before experienced dating back to the beginning of his NBA career in 2009. He suited up for a game in the G League.

And while the initial returns were mixed, he looked like his old self just two nights later when the Agua Caliente Clippers visited the Stockton Kings on Sunday. In his 27 minutes on the floor, Ibaka dropped 21 points on 8-of-13 shooting and 2-of-3 from distance. He also contributed 10 rebounds and five assists to the 103-82 win.

Ibaka Volunteered for Assignment

VideoVideo related to clippers big man looks like his old self in g league2021-11-15T19:57:54-05:00

While some in his position may have scoffed at the idea of spending time with the affiliate club, Ibaka is cut from a different cloth. He actually asked for a ticket to Ontario.

“He wanted to get down and find his rhythm,” said Clippers coach Tyronn Lue, via the Press-Telegram. “He said right now the game is a little fast for him, so he wanted to go down to the G League and just play and get reps, get his conditioning up, get his timing.”

Although vets being open to some G League time en route to a comeback isn’t unheard of, Lue noted that he had never seen it happen with a player who had already returned to their NBA club. And Ibaka’s desire to do so made an impression on him.

“When you got a guy who’s a 13-year vet, that’s a true professional. Just trying to do what he can to get back and help us out in any way he can, so that was good to see,” he said.

“I’ve seen it before, when guys are practicing and just trying to get familiar but haven’t played in a while,” Lue added. “But to come play a couple games and then go back down, I don’t think I’ve ever seen that. That just shows you the professional he is and that just shows you about our team and how we want to sacrifice to get to where we’re trying to get to.”

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Clippers Make Big-Time Jump in ESPN Power Rankings

Only a handful of days ago, it was bad times in La La Land, as Paul George was seemingly flying solo and the Clippers had stumbled to a 1-4 start. As of this writing, though, the Clips have won seven of their last eight games and are sitting pretty at 8-5. As a result, they just jumped eight spots to No. 12 in the ESPN power rankings for Week 5.

Wrote Ohm Youngmisuk:

The Clippers have looked a lot like the team that made the run to the Western Conference finals last season. They’ve defended and played with a lot of fun during this stretch, even with Kawhi Leonard and Marcus Morris out, and Serge Ibaka playing sparingly in just two of the games as the big man works his way back from injury. After a tough seven-game stretch, Eric Bledsoe is beginning to look like the point guard the Clippers envisioned. Paul George continues to play like a do-it-all MVP candidate, and Reggie Jackson is a catalyst when the Clippers are at their best.


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