Steven Adams gets start but no win for Thunder
Kiwi rookie Steven Adams got the starting assignment for the Oklahoma City Thunder today, but not the result he would have wanted as the Western Conference's top team crashed to a 125-117 home defeat to the Los Angeles Clippers.
With normal starting centre Kendrick Perkins sidelined by injury, the 20-year-old New Zealander stepped into the lineup as the Thunder looked to improve their NBA-best record.
Instead OKC were rolled by a sharp Clippers performance that saw all five starters tally 18 points or better, led by a 36-point haul from shooting guard Jamal Crawford.
After taking a 115-112 lead late in the piece, the Thunder stalled over the run home and were outscored 13-2 in the final 2:28, going one-of-seven from the floor as well as missing both free-throw attempts.
The 43-14 Thunder were paced by a game-high 42 points and 10 assists by superstar Kevin Durant but suffered their second straight home defeat since the All-Star break with a sub-par defensive effort. The Clips improved to 38-20 as they levelled their road record at 15-15 for the season.
Adams played 16 minutes and finished with one point (0/1 FG, 1/2 FT), six rebounds, a block and one turnover.
He is expected to retain the starting role in Perkins' likely extended absence, with the Thunder looking to snap their two-game losing streak with a home clash against the Cleveland Cavaliers on Thursday (NZ time).
Returning Thunder star Russell Westbrook continued to work his way back to form on his return from long-term knee problems, going three-of-13 from the field for 13 points, five boards and six assists in 25 minutes.