Basketball: Adams edges closer to finals

By Kris Shannon

Steven Adams fends off the attentions of Tim Duncan to dunk during the Thunder's game four victory. Photo / Getty
Steven Adams fends off the attentions of Tim Duncan to dunk during the Thunder's game four victory. Photo / Getty

Oklahoma City dispatched San Antonio today to level up the Western Conference Finals, leaving Steven Adams two wins away from playing for the NBA title.

After falling into an 0-2 hole following the series' first two games in Texas, the Thunder made the most of home advantage to record a 105-92 victory and send the series back to San Antonio.

All Star Kevin Durant and Russell Westbrook combined for 71 points in the comprehensive win, while no Spur scored more than 15 amid a suffocating defensive effort. Adams played another prominent role in limiting the Spurs, with the Thunder restricting the NBA's leading scorers to an average of 94.5 points in their two victories.

The Kiwi played 26 minutes off the bench and finished with four points on two-of-three shooting from the floor. He also grabbed six defensive rebounds and recorded a block, walking a fouling tightrope to finish the game with five fouls to his name.

Adams' brightest moment came midway through the second quarter when, after receiving a pass from Serge Ibaka, he rose and withstood the attentions of Tim Duncan to slam home one-handed.

The Kiwi, starting centre Kendrick Perkins and power forward Serge Ibaka combined to keep the Spurs quiet in the paint, an area in which they were dominant in the series' first two games. Ibaka, once again, made a huge difference to Oklahoma City's defence, continuing an incredible comeback after last week being ruled out for the rest of the playoffs with a calf injury.

His return has coincided with the Thunder's change of fortunes but they will now have to cope with a change in venue, with game five set for Friday (NZT) in San Antonio. Today's win guarantees the series will see a sixth game, at least, which will be back in Oklahoma City, with the Spurs' superior regular season record giving them home court advantage for a possible deciding seventh game.

If the Thunder manage to claim two more wins and advance to the NBA Finals, it would cap a dream debut season for Adams. The centre has become integral off the bench for the Thunder in the playoffs, exceeding his regular season averages in minutes, points and rebounds.

The last Kiwi involvement in the NBA Finals came in 2005, when Sean Marks, now an assistant coach in San Antonio, was a bit-part player as the Spurs took the title.

- APNZ

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