Kid Kiwi Saved The Game And Maybe The Series For Thunder
By Randy Renner, Senior Writer
So many things get overlooked in a game like last night’s thrilling 98-97 Thunder win. First because there are just so many big plays and key moments and then specifically with last night’s game there are those last, frantic 13.5 seconds that dominate all conversations.
Manu Ginobili stepping over the out-of-bounds line trying to guard Dion Waiters’ inbounds pass (should have been a technical foul coming as it did inside the last two minutes of the fourth quarter), Kawhi Leonard holding onto Russell Westbrook’s jersey while he was trying to get open (should have been a foul), Dion elbowing Manu to get some room (lead official Ken Mauer says that should have been an offensive foul though specific language on that situation isn’t in the rule book), Waiters then jumping to pass to Kevin Durant (also a violation), Durant being bowled over by Danny Green (should have been a foul), Steven Adams being grabbed by a fan to slow his ability to get back into the action after trying to swat Patty Mills’ 3-point shot and then Serge Ibaka grabbing LaMarcus Aldridge by the jersey in the scrum for a loose ball at the end, but there was also plenty of other guys grabbing and shoving too.
All sorts of possibilities for whistles but it was play on and Thunder fans are happy for the way it turned out. Spurs fans are apoplectic over the no-call on Waiters’ elbow but again, before that Ginobili should have been T’d up and anyway the Spurs were probably better off with the no-call because it sparked a 3-on-1 fast break instead of a side out of bounds play.
So plenty of things to talk about jammed into those last few seconds.
So many things that the overall play of Adams during the entire game and his amazing effort at the end may be overlooked. Andre Roberson’s defense on Leonard (and others) is also something that’s probably not being talked about enough.
In the 24 minutes Roberson was on the floor the Spurs scoring was down to just 60.5 points per 100 possessions.
And Adams? Well you could pretty easily say he saved the game all by himself and because of that maybe the series too.
Remember that 3-on-1 fast break the Spurs had after Green knocked Durant down and stole the inbounds pass? Adams was the one, the one and only Thunder player able to get back in transition.
Adams set himself up as a road block to Green who then passed to Mills. But Adams was able to get into Mills’ way too so that he had to pass to Ginobili instead of going for a contested layup. Ginobili took the rock right at Kid Kiwi who stopped that action too forcing Ginobili to send a backwards pass over his head to a wide open Mills in the corner. Adams was able to again get into the action, sticking a long arm and giant hand toward Mills as he leapt into the air. One of his fingers might have grazed the ball on the way by because it came up way short leading to the scrum at the end.
So in that one, last critical sequence Adams disrupted four tries by the Spurs to get the go ahead bucket.
According to NBA.com Advanced Stats and Synergy Sport-Vu player tracking, the 7-foot Adams was one of the most active and effective Thunder players. He traveled 2.61 miles during the game, second only to Durant’s 2.8 miles and averaged 4.21 miles an hour, second to Roberson’s 4.9 among players who were on the floor at least 10 minutes.
Adams also was great defending at the rim, allowing Spurs players to shoot just 42.9 percent, Durant was great too allowing just 25 percent shooting but he defended only about half as many shots as Adams.
Adams was close enough to have a shot at grabbing 25 rebounds, he collected 17 a whopping 68 percent of available rebounds.
And on the offensive end Adams touched the ball 64 times, second only to Westbrook’s 88 and Adams made more passes than any of his teammates (55) just a bit more than Westbrook’s 50.
Every one of Adams’ six shots were contested and he made five of them (83.3 percent) the team’s best individual shooting percentage.
So when you think about all the great moments and the 29 points from Westbrook and the 28 from Durant add to that what you might have just learned about Kid Kiwi’s game and remember too he’s just 22 years old.