Serge Ibaka (Photo: Getty Images) -

Serge Ibaka (Photo: Getty Images) –

After missing the first two games of the Western Conference Finals, Serge Ibaka returned on Sunday night to help the Oklahoma City Thunder seal a much-needed 106-97 triumph, keeping their playoffs hope alive.

Ibaka was 6 for 7 from the field, made 3 of his 4 free-throws, blocked four shots, grabbed 7 rebounds en route to 15 points after spending 29.36 minutes running up and down the court.

Midway the third quarter, Ibaka limped for a while, but gestured to Thunder coach Scott Brooks that he was OK to continue.

In the end, the Congolese-born was the difference maker that Oklahoma City needed, as he provided the energy on both ends of the court.

As walked off the floor with 3 minutes remaining and the Thunder were up 20 points, he received a standing ovation from the Chesapeake Energy arena sellout crowd.

Kevin Durant, who finished with 25 points for Oklahoma City said that having Ibaka back was a plus for them: “I gained so much more respect for Serge to put his body out there, and sacrifice his health for the better of the team,” Durant said.

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