The big story for the Oklahoma City Thunder in their preseason opener Wednesday night against the Minnesota Timberwolves was the much-anticipated return of Kevin Durant, who hasn’t played in an NBA game for almost eight months. It was also Billy Donovan’s first NBA game as a head coach. But the highlight of the night absolutely belonged to teammate Serge Ibaka, who emphatically denied reigning dunk champ Zach LaVine at the rim after he tore through the lane for a huge dunk attempt.
LaVine might very well be the best dunker to come into the league since Vince Carter, but on this particular play the Serge Protector reminded everyone why he’s a perennial candidate for Defensive Player of the Year. He also added 18 points on the night. For Durant, everything went off without a hitch as he scored 15 points in 22 minutes on 5-of-8 shooting from the floor, while Russell Westbrook – to nobody’s surprise – picked up right where he left off last season as he posted yet another ridiculous stat line: 14 points, 13 assists, and eight rebounds in just 22 minutes.
It was also a big night for the Timberwolves’ No. 1 pick, Karl-Anthony Towns, who was impressive in his NBA debut with 18 points on 8-of-12 shooting. The Thunder, however, would spoil his inaugural outing as they went on to win 122-99.