With two games remaining in their NBA regular season, Steven Adams and the Oklahoma City Thunder are in a battle for their post-season lives.

The side beat the league-leading Houston Rockets 108-102 on Sunday to move within one game of clinching a spot in the playoffs. But with the Utah Jazz clinching their spot in the post-season on Monday, the Thunder were locked in a five-team battle for the four remaining spots in the Western Conference.

There was cause for concern among Oklahoma City Thunder fans on Sunday, when Adams left the floor early against the Rockets.

The Thunder looked at risk of losing their big Kiwi early in the piece after he took a shot to the face from Houston reserve centre Nene.


Adams was taken to the locker room, but was able to return to the match before the half-time break and helped the Thunder claim a the win.

The pressure had been put on the Thunder to perform ahead of the game, with the Denver Nuggets winning earlier in the day to draw level with the Oklahoma City side in the win column.

Denver hold the tiebreaker over OKC, so a loss to Houston would have seen them fall equal with the Nuggets in both columns and drop out of the top eight in the Western Conference.

With the way the season has tracked for the Thunder, fans would have expected Paul George, Russell Westbrook or even Adams to step up to lead the team against the Rockets. Instead, it was Carmelo Anthony, who produced at the level Thunder fans had been hoping for all season, to get the ball rolling.

The former All-Star forward scored 14 of the Thunder's 36 first-quarter points - doing damage from inside and outside the three-point arc as the side took a six point lead after the opening 12 minutes.

With Anthony on form, spaces opened up for George (24 points), Westbrook (24 and 10 assists) and Adams (12 and 8 rebounds) to get their shots away, with Jerami Grant (12 and 5 rebounds) having a nice impact off the bench.

Despite Houston getting strong production from MVP favourite James Harden (26 points 9 assists) and shooting just above 47 per cent, the home side committed 17 turnovers and got off just 76 shots compared to the Thunder's 91 as they fell to just their seventh home loss in 41 games this season.

While the Thunder could have afforded to lose the match, but that would have given them no room for error in their final two games of the regular season.


The side were now just one win away from clinching their spot in the playoffs - which could still be as high as the fourth seed - with games away to Miami (sixth seed in the East) and at home against Memphis (second-worst record in the league) to come.

The Thunder were fighting against the San Antonio Spurs, New Orleans Pelicans, Minnesota Timberwolves and Denver Nuggets for the final spots in the playoffs.

The Pelicans and Spurs hold the same record as the Thunder - 46-34, while the Timberwolves and Nuggets were both 45-35.

However the schedule works in the Thunder's favour. In their final matches of the season, the Spurs play the Pelicans, while the Timberwolves play the Nuggets. The latter could decide the final seedings.

Current Western Conference standings:
1. Houston (64-16)
2. Golden State (57-23)
3. Portland (48-32)
4. Utah (47-33)
5. New Orleans (46-34)
6. Oklahoma City (46-34)
7. San Antonio (46-34)
8. Minnesota (45-35)

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