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.
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