OKC's Adams improves in NBA second outing

MARC HINTON
Last updated 11:25 10/07/2013
Steven Adams
NBA Cares/Twitter
PAYING TRIBUTE: New Zealand's NBA rookie Steven Adams wears special uniform paying tribute to tornado victims.

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His Oklahoma City Thunder coaches have challenged him to improve each day, and Kiwi NBA rookie Steven Adams obliged today at the Orlando Summer League.

In his second outing of the tournament the 2.13m 19-year-old produced his best performance of his fledgling pro career as he helped the Thunder advance their record to 3-0 with a 79-75 victory over the Detroit Pistons.

Adams played 31 minutes at centre for the Thunder -- serious minutes in summer league play -- and finished with 11 points on four-of-five shooting from the field and six rebounds. He also went three-of-five from the free-throw line and had just the one turnover.

Adams' efforts were more commendable in that they were achieved in a notable head to head against outstanding Pistons big man Andre Drummond who finished with 12 points and 11 rebounds.

The Oklahoma coaches will be rapt with Adams' early progress which hints at positive things ahead. He is considered a major development project, especially at the offensive end, but today's performance shows they have certainly got something to work with.

Adams was chosen No 12 overall by the Thunder at the recent NBA Draft, with many questioning his readiness to play at the top level after just one year at the University of Pittsburgh.

The Thunder were led today by an Orlando league record 35 points from point guard Reggie Jackson who went 12-of-19 from the field and nine-of-11 from the free-throw line. He poured in 23 of those points in the final quarter, including 18 straight, as his team erased a 14-point deficit in the final term.

Many of Jackson's looks came off excellent screens set by Adams in the high post, with the New Zealander holding to his pledge to do the basics well at this tournament.

Thunder coach Rex Kalamian felt Adams showed some positive signs that he's going to be able to contribute for his new team this season.

"A few times in there he was able to move his defender, and be physical with him. That's one of the things we're going to require out of Steven - that he plays physical basketball.

"Luckily for us he likes to play that way. It's not going to change who he is - he's a physical guy, a good screen-setter and he does some things really well. And he's going to continually get better at these things.

"We just need to focus on what he needs to get better at and continue to teach him. He picks things up very well and wants to be coached and wants to learn. He's fun to be around."

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OKC meet the Philadelphia 76ers tomorrow as they look to continue their perfect record at the tournament.

Meanwhile New Zealand Breakers point guard Cedric Jackson has produced a second straight standout display for the Miami Heat at the Orlando tournament.

Jackson, playing 23 minutes as starting point guard for the Heat, finished with five points, eight rebounds and nine assists as Miami defeated the Orlando Magic 94-80 for their second win of the event.

Jackson went just one-of-five from the field, but showed the all-round game familiar to Breakers fans as he made another positive stride in his bid to play his way on to an NBA roster for the 2013-14 season.

The Breakers are holding a spot open for Jackson as he chases his NBA dream, but would love to have the league MVP back again as they chase an historic four straight Australian NBL titles.

- Fairfax Media

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