With the game winding down and the Oklahoma City Thunder on their way to a season sweep of the Los Angeles Clippers Sunday afternoon, Serge Ibaka was called for a flagrant foul after chopping at Blake Griffin and hitting him in the groin. Kobe Bryant had a few thoughts of his own on the incident.
Talking about the situation after practice Monday, Kobe gave an idea of what he would have done had he been in Griffin's shoes: "I probably would have smacked him in the mouth. I would’ve dealt with the pain afterwards."
Unfortunately, Blake Griffin was too busy writhing on the floor in pain for any kind of possible retaliation. No retaliation came after Griffin had recovered, either.
Ibaka defended himself after the game, claiming that he didn't purposely hit Griffin, but was merely trying to gain better position.
He hit my hands away. He's strong, so when he grabs you, your jersey or whatever, and you try to defend yourself and rebound. So maybe you can do some move, not to hurt, [but] just to get good position. But then something happens where you get hurt in the paint. It's not anything where I want to try to hurt him. I'm not that kind of person. I just try to play hard, and that's it.
And Kendrick Perkins also came to his teammate's defense, arguing both players were equally in the wrong:
"I didn't see it to where it was like that flagrant. (Griffin) took (Ibaka's) arm and knocked him down. The dude (is) known for flopping anyway, so that's what it is," Thunder's Kendrick Perkins told USA TODAY Sports' Sam Amick after the game. "I was (angry). The (Clippers') reaction after that was kind of like Serge Ibaka against Blake Griffin.
"He ain't going to get the benefit of (the doubt) or what's really happening down there. You ain't seeing all the stuff that other people are doing. Serge ends up getting the bad end of the stick. I didn't like the whole thing—period. I thought it should've been a double foul."
Ibaka scored a key three-point play that made it 104-100, and had a key block down the stretch after the incident. Had Ibaka been assessed the flagrant-2 and ejected, the game may have turned out differently down the stretch.