The Thunder just beat the Clippers 108-104 in a possible preview of the Western Conference finals, withstanding a furious Clipper rally to hold on at the end. Serge Ibaka helped the Thunder to that win with 16 points, but a different stat that won’t show up in the box score was of more fan interest in the game’s aftermath: one opponent’s groin punched. That opponent: Blake Griffin. That play: below (h/t The Point Forward):
Okay. You’ve now seen the replay many times from many angles. We’ve watched it several times ourselves. Tell us: is there any way that was an accident? The most benefit of the doubt we can give to Ibaka here is that maybe he didn’t mean to chop Griffin directly in the groin, but Mike Tirico is right: that hit had nothing to do with standard jockeying for position.
Ibaka’s “play” helped the Clippers stay in the game until the end: the shot on which he hit Griffin below the belt went in, meaning any fight for rebound positioning was moot, Griffin hit one of two free throws, and the Clippers then hit a three for a total of a seven-point swing from before this sequence unfolded. Of course, it wasn’t enough, and Ibaka converting a three-point play with a minute to go was a big reason why. Should he have even been allowed to be in the game at that point? You can decide that. We’ll just say we’d be very surprised if this doesn’t at least incur a fine from the league… and that based on today, a Thunder-Clippers playoff series would be awesome.
Oh, and here’s one more look at Ibaka’s flagrant in gif form, via SB Nation. It still looks, uh, non-accidental.