Basketball: Steven Adams off to winning start with Oklahoma City Thunder in the NBA

Steven Adams attempts to contest the shot of Joel Embiid during the Thunder's win. Photo / AP
Steven Adams attempts to contest the shot of Joel Embiid during the Thunder's win. Photo / AP

Steven Adams' fourth year in the NBA began on a promising note, showcasing his improving offensive touch in the Thunder's opening-night victory.

Oklahoma City this afternoon overcame a fourth-quarter deficit to defeat Philadelphia 103-97 on the road, starting life after Kevin Durant with a win.

Adams illustrated he was ready to carry more of the offensive load after Durant's departure to the Golden State Warriors, though the Kiwi was outshone by rookie 76ers centre Joel Embiid.

Much is expected of the Cameroon-born seven-footer, who was selected third overall in the 2014 draft but missed his first two seasons through injury. And Embiid flourished in his first NBA start, scoring 20 points in 22 minutes and at one point taunting Adams with shouts of "he can't guard me".

Indeed, Adams struggled at times to contain Embiid's athleticism in the paint, but he did do well to contest an Embiid attempt in the final 30 seconds that would have tied the game had it fallen.

It was instead on offence where Adams shone, particularly in the second quarter. The 23-year-old scored 10 of his 16 points in the period, including one spree of six straight as he mixed dunks with a mid-range floater.

Adams final line came on seven-of-16 shooting, while he also added five rebounds, three steals and an assist in 36 minutes on the floor, tying Russell Westbrook for a game-high across both teams.

Westbrook paced the Thunder with 32 points, 12 rebounds and nine assists, a level of production the point guard will be under pressure to replicate throughout the season after the loss of Durant.

And Adams, now firmly established in the NBA and coming off last season's breakout playoff campaign, will also be expected to regularly contribute on the offensive end, a task that will continue with a home game against Phoenix on Saturday afternoon (NZT).

- NZ Herald

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