Offensive showcase ends with Bullets sitting atop NBL Cup ladder

ONE of the highest-scoring NBL games this season saw the Brisbane Bullets edge the Adelaide 36ers 109-104 on the back of 30 points from MVP candidate Nathan Sobey. Adelaide played one of their better games through an inconsistent period for them and managed to get out to a double-digit lead twice. Brisbane’s form and class stood tall though as their offensive spread and second-half defensive effort got them over the line.

Adelaide’s first quarters have been troubling in recent matches, only winning one of their last six, but they came out to play as the entertaining offensive display started immediately for both teams. Bullets star Vic Law nailed a triple to open their scoring account, but the outright third most-capped 36er in Daniel Johnson replied with a three of his own as he started his efforts for a huge scoring night.

Sunday Dech was a key contributor on the night, but 12 first-quarter points were instrumental in Adelaide’s early lead and vital to their impressive shooting, with two of those points being a huge poster over the in-form Matt Hodgson.

The 36ers took a four-point lead into the first break, with Josh Giddey’s five dimes also putting him on triple-double watch.

With Brandon Paul’s entry to NBL21 imminent, the departing Jeremy Kendle made the most of what looks to be his last game as a 36er, sinking triples on either side of quarter-time and bringing great energy on the defensive end.

Coach Connor Henry decided to run the offence through Tony Crocker who did not disappoint with some magic in the post and a pull up mid-range jumper. Combined with Johnson’s dominance on the offensive boards, the 36ers made their way to a 10-point lead.

Back and forth action closed out the half but it was all thanks to one man: Sobey. Strong shooting and confidence managed to keep the Bullets within six points at the main break in what was the highest combined half-time score (118 points) this season. The defence was far from ordinary, but the offence was just fantastic.

Both teams were shooting brilliantly, but the key difference was the 12 more shots taken by Adelaide on the back of nine offensive rebounds to one.

After just eight first-half points on four attempts, Law started the second half with an early basket as he imposed himself on the game. He was not alone in this imposition though, as the Bullets raced to score 21 points in the first five minutes of the third quarter to retain the lead and force the game into the back-and-forth slog that would remain.

With the scores tied at the final break, Hodgson fouled out with 8:30 left in the game and looked to be a big blow at the time but Law and Sobey along with valuable contributions from Jason Cadee would help steady proceedings for Brisbane.

Law was fading out of the post and secured three the old-fashioned way, while Sobey and Cadee were dropping bombs from deep.

Johnson and Giddey stepped up for Adelaide as well, but it was Jack McVeigh who kept the 36ers in the game. His effort on both ends stood out, but his efficiency and hustle offensively set him apart.

With just three points in it, Sobey put in a big dive to save a loose ball, and then pulled up for three up the other end to all but ice the game.

It was another monster game for Sobey as he ended with 30 points (11-15), four rebounds, and four assists. Law was just as efficient with 22 points (10-13), four rebounds, and five assists. Cadee (16 points) and Orlando Johnson (13 points, four rebounds, four assists) chipped in with important minutes as the Bullets shot a remarkable 60 per cent from the floor. They also restricted Adelaide to 42 second-half points, 20 less than their first-half concession.

Johnson led the 36ers with 29 points and nine rebounds, as Giddey narrowly missed his triple-double with 19 points, seven rebounds, and 11 assists.

Dech finished with 20 points, while McVeigh had 18 points and eight rebounds to continue his string of four consecutive double figure scoring games.

The Bullets face the Kings on Saturday, as the 36ers take on Perth on Sunday.

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