Kiwi Steve in the NBA #7: Words, Words, Words

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BOX SCORES

vs CHARLOTTE HORNETS (W 109-104):

37 MINS | 13 PTS (5/11 FG, 3/7 FT) | 8 REB (5 OFF) | 4 AST | 1 STL | 1 BLK | 1 TO | 3 PF

vs DENVER NUGGETS (L 105-98):

37 MINS | 12 PTS (6/15 FG, 0/1 FT) | 14 REB (7 OFF) | 1 STL | 2 TO | 3 PF

vs CLEVELAND CAVALIERS (W 100-83):

33 MINS | 6 PTS (3/6 FG) | 5 REB (1 OFF) | 1 AST | 1 STL | 2 BLK | 1 TO | 1 PF

vs ATLANTA HAWKS (W 124-109):

32 MINS | 6 PTS (3/7 FG) | 13 REB (3 OFF) | 3 AST | 3 STL | 1 BLK | 3 TO | 2 PF

at DETROIT PISTONS (W 110-83):

28 MINS | 21 PTS (7/8 FG, 7/7 FT) | 6 REB (2 OFF) | 1 AST | 2 BLK | 1 TO | 1 PF


NEXT WEEK

at BROOKLYN NETS, Thursday at 1.30pm (NZT)

at CHICAGO BULLS, Saturday at 2.00pm (NZT)

vs UTAH JAZZ, Tuesday at 2.00pm (NZT)

at NEW ORLEANS PELICANS, Thursday at 2.00pm (NZT)


vs CHARLOTTE HORNETS (W 109-104)

You know, coming into this game Steven Adams was averaging 15.9 points and 10.4 rebounds per game, shooting at 61.8% from the field. Getting up ten shots a game. Only scored in single figures twice in 16 matches. All in all it was a marvellous start to the season, averaging career highs in damn near all the relevant areas. But even the best of them have slumps and a guy like Kiwi Steve who has to rely on other fellas to get him the ball is always going to be vulnerable to a bit of that.

Against the Hornets it was alright. 13 points from 5/11 shooting with 8 rebounds. Not too far off the averages, though he missed a few shots he’d have expected to get. Dennis Schroder started in place of the injured Terrance Ferguson and that meant a lot of ball in the hands of Russ and Dennis, each taking at least 18 shots while Paul George took 21 of them (not his best day, he was 8/21). Still Steve got some touches early on, getting a second-chancer to start the first and then doing the same to close it. Hey, if you’re gonna miss you might as well make up for it soon as you can and there’s no easier way to do that then by doing nothing, just watching the oppo put your miss back through the hoop themselves.

He also got blocked by Frank Kaminsky in there, hence another reason it didn’t feel like a great game for him. I guess when 13p/8r feels average it shows how far he’s come. The Thunder led most of the way in the first but that tip shot was the only reason they led at the end of it. Similar story through most of the game. Just sloppy work letting the Hornets hang around.

Funaki did make his presence known at the end of the half with a couple big defensive plays against Kemba Walker (who is having his finest season yet, btw, he’s an absolute lock for All Stars). First he nicked the ball off him with 37 seconds left in the 2Q and then on the next possession he blocked the bugger at the rim.

OKC finally started to pull away as their small margins tallied up and with ten minutes left they were up by 11. But again they couldn’t hold the distance and it was up to Russell Westbrook to make some free throws at the end to ensure they didn’t throw it away. All goods, a win is a win and the Hornets are half decent. Kemba Walker ended with 25 points. Former Thunder lad Jeremy Lamb had 18. For OKC there was an excellent 30 points from Westbrook with 12 rebounds and 8 assists to hang on to, while PG13 added 19 and Schröder another 23.


vs DENVER NUGGETS (L 105-98)

As for this old game, less said the better. Denver popped off to a double digit lead in the first quarter despite playing in the fine State of Oklahoma and they never let it slip, leading to the finish line from 2:35 left in the first quarter, a Trey Lyles triple proving rather useful there. OKC were then so bad in the second that they fell down as many as 25 points.

There was a second half comeback, it wasn’t all gloom. But getting as close as five in the fourth they could get no closer. Maybe if Russell Westbrook hadn’t missed all his six 4Q shots… he had a triple double on the night but shot 6/23 for 16 points.

Steven Adams didn’t help much. As the Nuggets were surging ahead in the first quarter, he was shooting 0/2 with 2 rebounds and a turnover… although to be fair they were only down by two when he sat. When he subbed back in that deficit was seven points and it promptly got worse with missed triples all over the show. Adams actually went scoreless in the entire first half, missing all six of his shots. When you’re going up against the multi-talented ability of Nikola Jokic then you need to take all the chances you can get.

He did do a decent defensive job on Jokic, who was limited to 16 points on 6/20 shooting with 6 rebounds and 5 assists. That’s a bad night by his standards. However with Gary Harris missing Jamal Murray stepped up and scored 22 for the visitors. Adams ended up with 12 points and 14 rebounds but that 6/15 field goal make is a weird one for him. It felt a lot more comfortable for Denver then the scoreline ended up suggesting. They don’t lose too many games these days but the Thunder definitely deserved to drop this one.

Welcome to Loud City: “Steven Adams — Pretty thoroughly outplayed by the Nuggets front line, and didn’t do himself any favors by shooting only 6-15 from the floor and mishandling multiple passes that could have resulted in points.”


vs CLEVELAND CAVALIERS (W 100-83)

Some games the stat sheet doesn’t accurately reflect what a player like Steven Adams does. Some games also end up being kinda routine in the course of a long NBA season. This was one of both as Adams logged a very quiet 6 points and 5 rebounds against the Cavs. He was scoreless in the second half. He also put Tristan Thompson in his back pocket for four quarters but the biggest impact Steven Adams had on this one was probably when he tried to haze rookie Collin Sexton and then got stared down for it… a bit weird. Only a rookie looks at Steven Adams and thinks he has to retaliate. The veterans know much better – Kiwi Steve simply doesn’t care.

He also twice blocked Collin Sexton in this game. Safe to say there was no stare down after this denial.

Cheeky little Cavs made this one interesting in the first quarter. Jordan Clarkson came off the bench to inspire an 11-0 run and led this thing from that point until three mins left in the second quarter when Adams dunked off a Westbrook feed for a 42-all scoreline. But from a 55-51 score early in the third, the Thunder went on to outscore their visitors (who have one away win all season) by 21 points the rest of the way. Russell Westbrook did crazy Russ things with 23 points, 19 rebounds and 15 assists… which sorta explains where Adams’ numbers disappeared to. Jerami Grant also scored 21 points and Paul George, playing through foul trouble, added 18. For the Cavs it was Jordan Clarkson’s 25 off the bench that topped it.

The Cavs only played eight guys (and only had nine kitted up in total, after trading Kyle Korver to the Jazz on the way over), plus they now sink to 4-16 on the season so this was always a game that the Thunder expected to win. Frisky moments in the first half aside, they did it quite easy. Cleveland were never within nine in the final frame. Again, Steven Adams’ main impact was in making Tristan Thompson metaphorically roll up into a foetal position with 2/8 shooting and only 2 total rebounds… but if we’re honest it was a tad boring with Adams not doing much scoring. Another routine win though, always a good thing. Westbrook had a ridiculous line of 23p/15a/19r while Jerami Grant was superb with 21 points himself.

Daily Thunder: “Steven Adams had a quiet night in the stat line, wrapping up with six points, five rebounds, and two blocks in 33 minutes of action. He attempted just six field goals (making three), but completely dominated Tristan Thompson down low. Thompson played 35 minutes, but scored just four points on 2-of-8 shooting. He came in averaging 11.4 rebounds per game. Tonight he finished with two.”

Welcome to Loud City: “Steven Adams had a relatively quiet night, but his duties were largely assigned to slowing down Tristan Thompson, which he did in spades. Thompson in 35 minutes scored 4 points and grabbed 2 rebounds.”


vs ATLANTA HAWKS (W 124-109)

Points are better but rebounds are still nice. Always handy to get those extra possessions and all that. Up against the Atlanta Hawks, the Thunder didn’t need too much to earn the W. They didn’t really need their seven foot kiwi at all for offence and he’d score just six points all game. Three outta seven shooting. Instead it was three point shooting that all of a sudden went mental, the worst 3PT shooting team in the NBA hitting 18 of them in a game, bloody figure that one out, aye.

Alex Abrines was the killer. He shot 7/11 from deep for 21 points, his best scoring game in the NBA, while Paul George and Patty Patterson also made three each. Adams hits triples in shootaround all the damn time but he never, never, shoots them in games, so when the hot hands were getting fed that meant chilling on defence and hitting up those boards as he does. A job that he got onto straight from tip-off. Two quick buckets in the first three minutes (which meant he scored two points in the final 29 minutes he was out there for).

OKC were up two after the first but then scored 38 points in the second and it was never again close. What we did get a good look at was more of this slick passing he’s been really going for this season. He’s always had an underrated ability to kick the ball out or hand it off but with his increased role these days and his ever-growing situational knowledge of the game he’s going to cruise to a career high in assists this year. He already has 36 of them in 21 games and his record was 88 last time around. That was at 1.2 per game. He’s at 1.8apg this season. Huge leap. He had three more against the Hawks – his fifth game this term with 3+ assists in a game, something he’d only done 24 times previously in five seasons.

NewsOK: “When listing the Thunder’s facilitators, Steven Adams’s name won’t pop up first. Russell Westbrook, Paul George and Dennis Schroder naturally come to mind before the OKC center. And yet, Adams recorded three assists in a 124-109 win over the Hawks Friday, logging at least that many for the third time in the Thunder’s past eight games.”

And, umm, that’s about all there is to say about this game. Pretty routine against a lottery team, really. John Collins and Alex Len scored 19 each for the Hawks while former Oklahoma State hero Trae Young had a shocker with 4/15 shooting for 9 points and a game worst -17 on the court. Along with Abrines’ 20 points there were also 23 for Rusty and 20 for PG. Dennis scored 18 off the bench.


at DETROIT PISTONS (W 110-83)

Mate and then it all came back around. Four games in which he’d averaged 9.3 points and 10.3 rebounds, not so bad on the rebounds… but he’d only shot 43.6%. Well below what he’s used to. So against Blake Griffin, Andre Drummond and the Piston lads he clearly decided it was time to unleash the beast and, as is always the case with Steve, it all started on the defensive end…

Well, technically he already has 6 points and an assist by then but that was a marker of what was to come. The Thunder took a nine-point lead into the second quarter by limiting Detroit to just 17 points in the first on their own court. There was nothing special about the second as both teams sort battled away but the third quarter lit a stick of dynamite in the mines.

Just before that, at the end of the half, Steven Adams had gone and picked on Zaza Pachulia, drawing back to back fouls on the bloke. What’s more is he stepped up and made all four of the free throws. Then polished off a layup. If it wasn’t Blake Griffin then it wasn’t happening for the Pistons at that point. But that third quarter, yeah. Steven Adams played nine and a half minutes of it and in that time OKC outscored their hosts by 16 points. The Thunder put four quarters of quality defence on the table here but in the third they took over offensively as well, beginning with some pick and roll magic from Russ and Steve and growing from there. Between them Westbrook, George and Adams scored 30 points in the third, as OKC outscored DET 37-19 in the 3Q overall.  

Welcome to Loud City: “The Thunder led the Pistons nearly throughout, jumping out to an early 1st quarter lead on the broad shoulders of Steven Adams, who won his head-to-head matchup against Pistons big man, Andre Drummond. Adams’ 21 points were a team-high, largely a by-product of the Thunder’s ability to break down the Detroit exterior defense. On the other end, he prevented Drummond from going to his post-up game which has had such an impact against other teams. Drummond was held to only 13 points and 6 rebounds, none offensive, along with 2 shots blocked courtesy of Mr. Adams, and one courtesy of this guy.”

Steven Adams didn’t even play the last quarter. He didn’t need to. Even in just 28 minutes on the court he somehow managed to top score for the entire game with 21 points and he did it on an unbelievably efficient eight field goal attempts (making his first seven). That’s impressive, no doubt. But what’s most impressive was his free throw line: Seven attempts, seven makes. How many times has he bettered that in his career? Just once. He made 8/8 in a game in Toronto in the 2016-17 season. This was only the fifth time he’s made five or more in a game without a miss.

NewsOK: “Even when Westbrook had five turnovers in the first half, many coming in miscommunications with Adams in their devastating pick-and-roll game, the issues were quickly corrected in the Thunder's third consecutive win, its eighth in 10 games. Adams was at the center. As he left the court, one person in the mass of Thunder fans surrounding the tunnel screamed “Aquaman!” repeatedly to get his attention, a reference to Adams' resemblance to movie star Jason Momoa. Wrong super hero on this night. Adams was closer to Superman, scoring a team-high 21 points on 7-of-8 shooting.”

Daily Thunder: “Steven Adams was elite against Detroit, plain and simple. The 21 points on 7-of-8 shooting is certainly noteworthy, but the most impressive aspect of Adams’ night was the work he did on Andre Drummond. The Pistons’ big man was essentially a non-factor, scoring 13 points on 6-of-17 shooting and grabbing a season-low six rebounds. Adams continues to come out ahead in his matchups with the NBA’s elite big men, which has to mean he absolutely is one.”


SLAM DUNKS

NewsOK: “Steven Adams was running. He always runs through the tunnel and the hallway leading to the locker room, so it took a moment for him to realize someone was calling his name. He turned around, jogged the length of the tunnel and found the family that tried to call him over.

It was the 3-year-old's birthday, and they propped her up on the divider to take a picture with Adams. He still towered over her, and as her parents stepped back to take the picture, her face contorted like she was about to cry. “I don't blame her,” Adams offered as her parents tried to comfort her.

That's Adams: equally sweet, awkward and intimidating. Now in his sixth season in the NBA, Adams has developed into a premier defensive center. His offensive numbers are impressive as well. Adams is averaging 15.5 points and 10.5 rebounds. With that success, the 25-year-old who ends half his interviews by saying, “words, words, words,” has become a mentor.”

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