NBA: Steven Adams injured but teammates lift to sink San Antonio Spurs

That faint M-V-P chant wasn't for Russell Westbrook.

It was for 37-year-old forward Nick Collison.Westbrook, the NBA's most valuable player last season, scored 21 points and posted his 19th triple-double of this season to help the Oklahoma City Thunder defeat the San Antonio Spurs 104-94 on Sunday afternoon (NZT).

Collison, a fan favourite who has been with the Thunder since the team moved from Seattle, stole the show.

Collison was pressed into action because starting center Steven Adams came down hard on his left ankle in the third quarter and did not return.

Collison entered the game in the fourth quarter for the first time and responded by scoring all seven of his points in a 2:41 span in the fourth quarter for Oklahoma City.

Collison heard the chant and got a kick out of it.

"Sometimes, I feel like the walk-on in college games," he said.

Westbrook was glad to see Collison show he's still got it.

Collison hadn't scored as many as seven points in a game since scoring seven on March 22, 2017, against Philadelphia.

"He puts in the work and he's always ready to go," Westbrook said.

"Tonight was one of those nights where he got his number called and he answered like he does every time.

“It's a blessing to be on the floor with a guy like him.

“He's so unselfish. It's good to see."

Collison said he just tries to remember that he could be needed at any time.

This time, it came in a key matchup between teams that are in the running for the No. 3 seed in the Western Conference.

"There has been a couple years for me where I haven't played much," he said.

"I'm just trying to focus when I'm out there on what is actually going on.

“Trying not to let it get into my head too much that I haven't been out here in a long time - really just focus on the play in front of you.

“I've gotten better at that as I've gone on. You just have to stay ready.”

Westbrook had 12 rebounds and 10 assists in the 98th triple-double of his career.

Jerami Grant scored 15 points, Corey Brewer added 12, Paul George and Alex Abrines each scored 11 and Patrick Patterson had 10 for the Thunder, who improved to 6-3 since the All-Star break.

Rudy Gay and Davis Bertans each scored 14 points for the Spurs, who have lost eight of 10.LaMarcus Aldridge was held to 11 points on 5-for-16 shooting.

"They were very aggressive," Spurs coach Gregg Popovich said.

"They did a good job. He didn't have one of his best nights, that's for sure, but his effort was great. It just didn't work for him tonight, and OKC was a big part of that."

Brewer's corner 3-pointer in the closing seconds of the first half gave the Thunder a 52-43 lead.

He led Oklahoma City with 10 points before the break.

Thunder center Steven Adams came down hard on his left ankle early in the third quarter and did not return.

Without his presence on both ends of the floor, the Spurs quickly took advantage and cut Oklahoma City's lead to 62-58.

The Thunder recovered after a timeout and led 77-68 after three quarters.

Collison took over in the early part of the fourth quarter.

He made a reverse layup to make it 82-70, drew the fifth foul on Aldridge with 7:41 to play, then scored in close a minute later to give the Thunder an 89-72 lead.

The Spurs cut their deficit to seven with about two minutes to play, but Westbrook later clinched his triple-double on an assist to Grant for a 3-pointer that put the Thunder up 12.

Atlanta will be left with a few battered bodies after Adams muscled up in the paint and didn't stop for anyone.
Steven Adams Source: Getty


Topics



'It was best for me to go' – Reformed Corey Webster leaving troubled past behind in second Breakers stint

Corey Webster is back at the Breakers and ready to prove he's grown up.

Webster's returned to his home club after more than a year away in Perth, Israel and China and while he's got the same scintillating skills, there's something new about him.

After going out of his comfort zone overseas, the 29-year-old is adamant he's learned from his mistakes and ready to lead by example.

"I had some personal things to work on and I think it was best for me to go away at that time and work on myself as a person and my game and I think I've come back better than ever."

He’s now determined on proving just that.

Webster's off-court indiscretions, including his discharge without conviction in an assault case last year, have been well publicised but he's put those firmly in the past.

The guard says his move overseas helped him do move forward.

"It was just something that I had to do.

"This is my life. Basketball is my life and I'm a professional and it's something that had to be done."

Webster and the Breakers begin their season next month at Spark Arena when they host the Brisbane Bullets on Thursday 11 October.


Breakers sign former NBA big man Shawn Long with final import slot

The New Zealand Breakers have been quick to re-fill their final NBL import slot by signing American Shawn Long.

Versatile big man Long replaces compatriot Jerrelle Benimon, who was released from his contract two days ago.

Specialist centre Benimon never arrived in Auckland, having requested a release for personal reasons.

Long, 25, had a brief stint in the NBA with Philadelphia two years ago.

"I had a number of options on the table but after speaking to the Breakers I felt as though they'd provide the best situation for me to improve all around as a player, but most importantly a chance to win a championship," Long said.

"I look forward to making the best of it and filling whatever role the team needs."

The former University of Louisiana player has been most prominent as a scorer in the NBA reserve leagues in recent years.

Long will join the Breakers ahead of this month's NBL Blitz and the October 3 pre-season game against the Phoenix Suns in Arizona.

Philadelphia 76er Shawn Long.
Philadelphia 76er Shawn Long. Source: Getty

TODAY'S
FEATURED STORIES

NBL expansion team to be located in Melbourne, join competition in 2019

The NBL has confirmed that the ninth team in the competition will be based in south east Melbourne.

The yet to be named franchise will play games at Melbourne Arena starting in the 2019/20 season.

"This is an exciting moment for the NBL as we announce a second team in Melbourne," NBL chief executive Jeremy Loeliger said on Sunday.

The NBL announced in July that Romie Chaudhari, co-owner of English Championship soccer team Swansea City, had been awarded a licence.

"We said when we granted the licence for a ninth team that its location would depend on having access to first class training, administrative and playing facilities," Loeliger said.

"The investment in the State Basketball Centre and Melbourne Arena makes south east Melbourne the ideal location for the next NBL team."

A deal has been agreed to move the Australian Basketball Centre of Excellence from Canberra to Melbourne's south east - with the Victorian Government on Sunday committing $82 million funding for expansion of the State Basketball Centre if re-elected and Knox City Council promising $25 million to the expansion project.

The Victorian Government will also add a further $13 million to upgrade Melbourne Arena if re-elected.

The newest NBL team will be based at the State Basketball Centre and play two regular season games there each season once the planned expansion has been completed.

"We are delighted to have chosen south east Melbourne as the location for our club," Tommy Greer, general manager of the team, said.

Rob Loe
Rob Loe Source: Photosport


Topics


Webster, Abercrombie to miss next round of World Cup qualifying as Tall Blacks name experienced squad

The Tall Blacks have named an experienced squad for the next phase of World Cup qualifying but will be without proven veterans Corey Webster and Tom Abercrombie.

Abercrombie hasn't been considered due to a hamstring injury he sustained while training for the Breakers this week while Webster has been given time off due to personal issues.

The star shooting guard has only just returned to New Zealand after playing in China and has been given a break to settle back in and prepare for the upcoming NBL season with the Breakers.

As a result, Ethan Rusbatch and Dion Prewster have been called into the squad which will be led by Mika Vukona.

The team also has the talents of overseas-based players such as Isaac Fotu and Tai Webster at their disposal.

Coach Paul Henare said the team is looking to send a message in the next round of qualifying after passing the first round with a record of five wins and one loss.

"We will not take anything for granted, that is a recipe for disaster. The fact is we are not yet qualified and must continue to pick up wins to keep pace at the top of the group.

"We know how tough these road trips are going to be and the hurdles we will have to overcome, we cannot and will not let our guard down for one moment.”

The will play Syria, Lebanon and Jordan twice over the next six months with the top three teams in the group qualifying for the World Cup in China next year.

Tall Blacks

Guards: Shea Ili, Breakers; Jarrod Kenny, Cairns Taipans; Ethan Rusbatch, Bay Hawks; Tai Webster, Galatasaray (Turkey);

Forwards: Reuben Te Rangi, Brisbane Bullets; Dion Prewster, Bay Hawks; Jordan Ngatai, Breakers; Isaac Fotu, Ratiopharm Ulm (Germany); Finn Delany, Breakers; Mika Vukona, Brisbane Bullets;

Centres: Rob Loe, Cairns Taipans; Tohi Smith-Milner, Melbourne United

Finn Delany, Tall Blacks in action during the FIBA Asia Cup 8-20 August 2017 in Lebanon. Photo: FIBA
Finn Delany, Tall Blacks in action during the FIBA Asia Cup. Source: Photosport


Topics