NEW ORLEANS (AP) When Pelicans 7-footer Jason Smith stepped outside for the type of mid-range jumper he hits routinely, Oklahoma City's Serge Ibaka sprang out to the perimeter and blocked the shot.
While the Thunder can usually rely on plenty of scoring from Kevin Durant and Russell Westbrook, it was a concerted defensive effort in the second half that helped them build and keep a comfortable lead down the stretch in a 109-95 victory over New Orleans on Friday night.
"Everybody did a great job helping each other on defense and there was more communication," said Ibaka, who had 17 points, 13 rebounds and three of the Thunder's 11 blocks. "Our focus was to contest every shot and make them make tough shots. Some nights they will make them but I think tonight we did a great job and that was the key."