Tag: sydney kings

Sydney Kings survive last quarter fightback from Bullets

THE race to finals continues to heat up and the Sydney Kings have managed to keep their slim chances alive with a thrilling win over Brisbane Bullets, to end the latters’ hopes of making it into the top four (83-82). The Bullets had their opportunities to seal the deal but the Kings found a way to dig deep and ride out the game thanks to Shaun Bruce.

It was a fast paced opening term as both sides proved they had a lot to play for. Daniel Kickert found his range nice and early for the Kings, showcasing his skill from downtown but Nathan Sobey and his Bullets were not about to lie down. Sobey was involved in just about everything to start the game, as was BJ Johnson as they controlled proceedings on the scoreboard. The Bullets established a handy lead piling on 24 points while keeping the kings to 17.

Brisbane maintained that level of composure and intensity for the opening minutes of the second term as Johnson and Lamar Patterson poured on the scoreboard pressure. They simply could not be denied and appeared to have the game well and truly on their terms with the lead extending to as much as 11 points as Tyrell Harrison also found himself in the action. But the Kings were not about to let the game slip away from them. a couple of substitutions from the Bullets gifted the Kings with a chance to pounce and they did as Xavier Cooks landed a handy jump shot then showcased his defensive traits with a strong rebound.

The wheels started to really turn as Jarell Martin made important back-to-back triples and all of a sudden the margin was back to three points. But it did not stop there as the Kings really started to rally and put a halt to the Bullets’ scoring and got down to business themselves with Casper Ware levelling the scores. Brad Newley impressed with his composure and execution to steal the lead and set the wheels in motion for Sydney.

Holding a five point lead at half time the Kings continued their merry way to keep the scoreboard pressure on extending to an eight point lead. Sobey was called for an un-sportsmanlike foul  against Ware and things went from bad to worse as the Bullets looked down and out. Kickert was proving to be a real thorn in the Bullets’ side as was Newley with the two experienced heads leading the charge as the home side got out to a solid 12 point lead at the final break.

With it all to play for in the final quarter the Bullets came out with a renewed sense of fight and desperation. Piling on nine points straight to open the quarter Brisbane proved they were here for the long-haul and were not about to let Sydney have it all their own way. They continued to push with Johnson making his presence felt with a huge dunk with less than 90 seconds left on the clock. His shot stole the lead for the Bullets but the Kings answered the call as Bruce converted his free throws to wrestle back the lead with 14 seconds left on the clock. It was a heart in your mouth finish as the ball changed hands time and time again as Jason Cadee let the ball trickle over the sideline and Ware gave off a foul but Johnson was unable to ice the cake as Sydney snuck home with a win.

Martin was a force to be reckoned with piling on 28 points at 61 per cent from the field and six rebounds. Ware was strong with his 14 points, three rebounds and three assists as Cooks also impacted the game with his nine points, seven rebounds and five assists. Kickert also chimed in with a handy 10 points and three assists. For the Bullets, Sobey was the topscorer thanks to his 22 points, eight rebounds and eight assists as Johnson got busy with his 17 points. Patterson also contributed a handy 15 points and five rebounds in the loss.

The win sees the Kings finish on the same points as South East Melbourne Phoenix and while they have all but secured the fourth spot there is still hope given the Phoenix will have to take on the Bullets. If Brisbane are able to win comprehensively against the Phoenix and their percentage suffers then the Kings could overtake their Melbourne counterparts and sneak into the top four, making for a couple of stressful days for Sydney while they await their fortunes.

Photo credit: Mark Kolbe

NBL: Kings perform late to keep finals chances alive

WITH slim finals hopes on the line, the Sydney Kings were able to sneak past the undermanned Illawarra Hawks, emerging from WIN Entertainment Centre with a six-point triumph on Thursday night. With their finals position locked in, the Hawks opted to rest star Tyler Harvey, giving the Kings an almighty confidence boost heading into the game, but were still dished a real scare, as the home side fought tooth and nail right until the end, but fell two baskets short. Leading by five points early in the final term, the Hawks looked as if they were more than capable of claiming an unlikely win, but late threes to Shaun Bruce and Xavier Cooks locked the game shut, as the Kings claimed an all-important victory.

The game opened in pretty dominant fashion for the Kings, starting the match on an 8-0 scoring run, thanks to Jarrell Martin finding an open lane to the hoop and finishing inside. The Hawks would soon after open their scoring, but the margin remained considerable, with a pair of Jarrad Weeks three-pointers opening the lead to double digits. The Hawks were able to chip away at this deficit, but still entered the first break trailing by six points with plenty of emphasis on the absence of leading-scorer Harvey. They were able to not only tie up proceedings early in the second quarter, but they even took the lead courtesy of a pair of long bombs from Hawk Lachlan Dent, who made the most of his extended minutes during the match. The Kings responded almost immediately, as Martin and guard Casper Ware came alive to close out the quarter in strong fashion, taking a seven-point advantage into half time. While the Hawks trailed, their belief in their ability to claim an unlikely win remained rock-solid.

The Kings opened the third term on another scoring tear, thanks to the range of Ware, who was really beginning to find his rhythm in the contest at this stage. An and-one to Jordan Hunter saw the lead again creep out to 11 points, and it looked as if Sydney were on the cusp of blowing the game wide open. The Hawks had other ideas though, taking over the game with a scoring blitz and bursting out to a three-point lead, before it was trimmed to just one point heading into the final term. The fourth quarter began with the Hawks jumping out of the gates to an early five-point advantage, thanks to a couple of tough finishes in the paint from Sam Froling. The Hawks had many hopes of a victory at this stage, but the Kings were able to grit their teeth and make the match-winning plays.

For the Kings, Martin was huge for his side, pouring in 23 points and 10 rebounds to deliver a significant impact on the result of the game. He was well aided by teammates Cooks (19 points) and Hunter (15 points). For the Hawks, Froling, Isaac White and Emmett Naar all contributed 12 points, and stood up in the absence of Harvey.

Closing in on the South East Melbourne Phoenix, the Kings have one more match to play as they look to sneak into the finals. They will face off against a fellow finals hopeful in the Brisbane Bullets, who are also looking to claw their way into the finals with a win. Be sure to tune in to Qudos Bank Arena on Saturday night in what should be an explosive contest, as both sides play for their seasons.

Picture credit: Matt King

Kings rule over United in double-overtime thriller

SYDNEY Kings have toppled Melbourne United in one of the games of the year to keep their playoff hopes alive, downing the ladder leaders by two points in an epic double-overtime National Basketball League (NBL) bout. In a must-win contest for the Kings to remain in contention, the home team secured the victory to move to a 17-17 record and just one win outside the top four, albeit having played an extra game than the South East Melbourne Phoenix (third) and Illawarra Hawks (fourth).

It was a 14-0 third term streak by the Kings that really made the difference in the end, after Melbourne had grabbed a four-point quarter time lead, and were up by five at the main break. The dominant run in the third quarter saw Sydney race out to as much as a 13-point advantage before United reeled them in, but the visitors still trailed by four points at the final break. The Kings lead in the final 30 seconds of regular time, before a Mitch McCarron layup levelled the scores, and a Craig Moller long-range miss with two seconds on the clock meant the teams were headed for overtime.

McCarron again saved the day in the first overtime period, making a levelling basket with 57 seconds on the clock for the sides to again head into the break with a 90-90 scoreline, and a second overtime period needed to determine a winner. With 1:12 on the clock, Shea Ili hit the turnaround jump shot to level the scores at 97-apiece, before Moller responded with a layup of his own. Jock Landale got to the line after being fouled off a three-point attempt but could only nail one of them, which proved costly in the end. Jordan Hunter finished off with a successful free throw for a two-point win, 100-98 as Chris Goulding‘s last second long-range jumper went begging.

The Kings were beaten across a number of key areas, but toppled United in the assists (21-20) and steals (11-2), as well as recording marginally more points in the paint (54-48) and second chance points (24-18), whilst their points from turnovers (23-9) was the key difference. Melbourne was the more accurate shooting side with 45 per cent from the field to the Kings’ 37 per cent, as well as 31 to 23 per cent from long-range. They won the rebounds (56-51) and the blocks (8-5), as well as had a couple more points off the bench (34-32).

Shaun Bruce lead the way with 21 points, seven assists and four rebounds for the Kings, knocking down five of 14 from long-range. Casper Ware (16 points, five assists) was not as accurate from beyond the arc, dropping just one of eight in his 47:27 on court. That herculean endurance effort was the most of anyone out there, as teammates Tom Vodanovich (13 points, two rebounds), Jarrell Martin (12 points, six rebounds and two steals) and Xavier Cooks (10 points, two assists) hit double-figure points. Hunter (nine points, six rebounds, four blocks and two steals), Moller (eight points, 12 rebounds, four assists and two steals) and Brad Newley (eight points, eight rebounds and two assists) were also instrumental in a real team effort.

Landale stood tall for the losing side with 23 points, 12 rebounds and two blocks to put up year another double-double. McCarron was the key playmaker with nine points, assists and rebounds in what was a close shave to a triple-double. Goulding (16 points, two rebounds and two assists), Mason Peatling (11 points, six rebounds and two blocks), Ili (11 points, seven rebounds), Scotty Hopson (11 points, four assists and two rebounds) and Jo Lual-Acuil (10 points, six rebounds and four blocks) all hit double-figure points.

Melbourne United will be favoured to bounce back against Cairns Taipans on Monday at Qudos Bank Arena, whilst the Kings will travel to WIN Entertainment Centre to take on the Illawarra Hawks.

 

Image Credit: Jaimi Joy/Getty Images

Wildcats do it again without Bryce with triumph over Kings

THE Perth Wildcats have recorded their second consecutive win without NBL superstar Bryce Cotton, taking down the Sydney Kings by 14 points at RAC Arena on Thursday night. The former NBL MVP is set for a stint on the sidelines with a quad injury, but that has not slowed down the form of his side. The Wildcats have backed up their win over the Adelaide 36ers earlier this week by taking down a Kings side that was hopeful of taking advantage of an undermanned opponent. Instead, the 10,650 strong Perth crowd was treated to a crucial win from the home side, a result that truly keeps them in contention for dethroning Melbourne United on top of the ladder.

The opening term saw Wildcat John Mooney open his account with eight first-quarter points, while teammate Todd Blanchfield was also impressive to begin the game. Despite strong performances from the pair, the Wildcats trailed by one point at the first break, with a determined Kings side up for the fight, thanks to a number of contributors. Despite entering the match without their star, the Wildcats still entered the match favourites, so when the Kings’ lead extended into the second quarter, fans in RAC Arena felt they were on the brink of witnessing a disappointing upset. The Wildcats were determined not to let this happen, and were able to completely break the game open to finish the quarter. A Mooney 3-pointer put his side up by two points, and this kickstarted a remarkable 14-0 run from the Wildcats to close out the second term. Blanchfield score eight straight points as the Kings struggled to contain the Perth forward from finding any shot he desired. The Wildcats entered the locker rooms at halftime with a 15-point lead, and prepared for any charge the Kings would make in the second half.

The third quarter saw the Kings make a slight charge as expected, but missing crucial shots saw the visitors not able to take advantage of this and reduce the lead. Instead, it was eight consecutive points from Wildcats development player Luke Travers that had the strongest impact for the quarter. Despite keeping their opponents quiet for periods of the third term, the Kings still trailed by 14 points heading into the final term. The fourth quarter certainly the prettiest display of basketball we’ve seen this season, with the Wildcats opening the scoring through Blanchfield, but unable to score a basket for the next seven minutes. The Kings were only able to score seven points themselves during this time, and their inability to capitalise ultimately ruled out any chance of a comeback as they would fall 81-67.

For the Wildcats, Blanchfield (23 points) and Mooney (19) ran the show all night long, constantly finding ways to score when their team needed it. Blanchfield’s eight-point run in the second term truly broke the game open when the contest was up for grabs. Travers also impressed for the Wildcats with 16 points of his own. For the Kings, Jarell Martin was an offensive threat all night, despite the scoreboard deficit. The forward finished with 20 points, while fellow King Jordan Hunter recorded a double-double with 14 points and 10 rebounds.

The Wildcats will head to Illawarra on Tuesday night to take on the Hawks, while the Kings face the toughest task in the NBL as they face off against the ladder-leading Melbourne United in Sydney on Saturday.

Picture credit: Paul Kane

Kings rise to occasion to pip Breakers in New Zealand

SYDNEY Kings have kept themselves in contention for a playoffs spot after coming good in the final term to overrun the New Zealand Breakers in the National Basketball League (NBL) contest last night. Locking horns at TSB Stadium, the Kings found themselves trailing for the majority of the night, before piling on 25 points to 15 in the last term to secure the five-point victory, 81-76.

Aside from a brief moment in the third term, the Kings trailed the Breakers from early in the first term until midway through the last quarter, with the home team having all the momentum. Though the Breakers did hold the lead, it never got beyond single-digits as the Kings kept in touch and as it happened, within striking distance. The visitors did not strike until the final term, trailing by five points at the last change, then won the final term by 10 points to turn that deficit into a final winning margin.

At one stage the teams were 70-apiece, with the Kings piling on 11 of the last 16 points to end the game strongly and run out victors. They dominated the rebounds (53-39), and had less personal fouls (19-27), but more remarkably outscored the Breakers from turnovers (13-12) despite having five more turnovers themselves (13-8). They also had more points in the paint (36-28) and second chance points (18-10), while the Breakers won the assist count (17-11), steals (7-0) and blocks (4-3) in a gallant effort.

Jarrell Martin put up 29 points and nine rebounds, whilst there were plenty of supporting acts off the boards. Jordan Hunter (14 points, seven rebounds), Xavier Cooks (seven points, seven rebounds) and Shaun Bruce (five points, seven rebounds and five assists) all stood up close to the basket, as Craig Moller influenced off the bench in the same way with five points and eight rebounds in the win. Casper Ware did not hit a triple from five attempts, but managed 15 points, two rebounds and two assists.

For the Breakers, Levi Randolph had 25 points and five rebounds, whilst Corey Webster came off the bench for 13 points and four rebounds. Tai Webster managed the 12 points, seven rebounds, five assists and three steals in an all-round performance, as Colton Iverson (10 points, seven rebounds, four assists and three blocks) and William McDowell-White (10 points, three assists and two rebounds) also reached double-figure points.

Sydney Kings coach Adam Forde said he was pleased his side remained in the hunt for playoffs, but could not stop now with some tough games against the finals-bound teams in the last two weeks.

“It is almost like boss levels,” he said. “These guys are tough, I can’t emphasise that enough. We split here, that is the first level. “The next weekend we play Perth in Perth, and then we host Melbourne 48 hours later. In the last round, we play Brisbane and Illawarra, who are in the same position that we are. The best thing is that it’s on us, we can’t blame anyone else … win or lose, it is solely on us.”

Whilst Sydney have the break before taking on those top two sides, the Breakers host another game, playing Adelaide 36ers at Christchurch Arena on Tuesday.

Picture credit: Elias Rodriguez/Getty Images

Season reaches climax, Hawks aiming to soar into top four

JUST over a handful of contests remain on the Illawarra Hawks’ agenda to conclude the NBL21 season and it is safe to say that the Wollongong-based side is starting to feel the heat of the moment.

With an even record of 15 wins and 15 losses this late in the campaign, it has certainly made for an entertaining finals race for five of the competition’s nine teams. Illawarra’s balanced win-loss line is also the result of a litany of hot streaks that opponents have been displaying consistently from the opening round.

While the Hawks’ 4-0 start to the season had many basketball fans shocked to begin with, slowly and steadily Illawarra have slid deep into the belly of the standings, but still remain heavy favourites to complete their bounce-back season after finishing with the wooden spoon last year.

A main proponent for Illawarra’s success-filled results so far is their ability to hold down the fort at home. At WIN Entertainment Centre, the Hawks have maintained an eight-win and six-loss record at home. The problem, however, is emerging from away games with positive results. Relinquishing nine contests to date while winning seven others on the road, Illawarra will need to pull off some more wins in enemy territory during the final run home.

Speaking of which, following Illawarra’s loss to Melbourne United back on Tuesday night, the Hawks have five different sides still to face in six games before the semi-finals kick off. The first of which are the Adelaide 36ers in South Australia, as the Birds currently stand an unlikely chance of closing the distance between themselves and Illawarra.

Illawarra can hopefully continue to march forward when they end Round 19 against the lowly Cairns Taipans, before facing the New Zealand Breakers the following Friday and the 36ers once again two days later the Sunday of that week.

The 21st and final round will see the Hawks make their final stand at home and given the way that the standings are shaping up, it could mean a pivotal last weekend of basketball for the entire NBL as the side face the Perth Wildcats and the Kings.

Beating many of these sides will be a tough ask for Coach Brian Goorjian’s men, but it has been well-documented that when the team works together collectively, they are formidable to say the least.

Leading the way statistically so far this season remains import guard Tyler Harvey and his 19.8 points, 3.4 rebounds and 2.8 assists per game, as he has shown he is the real deal at Australia’s topflight. Despite a less than substantial 10-point effort in his last time out against Melbourne, Harvey frequents scoring amounts north of 20 paired with a lethal floater game to accompany his skillset. These numbers will come in handy if he can replicate this form over the next few weeks.

By Harvey’s side are fellow backcourt members Justinian Jessup and Justin Simon. Being one of the NBL’s biggest standouts amongst the rookie class, Jessup’s exemplary shooting remains the 22-year-old’s major weapon on the floor. He currently averages a solid 14 points per game alongside 3.8 rebounds and 1.8 assists. Simon’s contributions also tell a similar story with the second of the two imports making his presence felt around the league, just around the corner from the finals, stringing together averages of 9.1 points, 5.6 rebounds and 1.9 assists.

One of the big questions surrounding the mid-season arrival of Cameron Bairstow was his ability to make a significant impact down low in the post. Having played 14 games since his debut this season, Bairstow has been more than potent during his minutes on the floor. Having put up over 11 points and six rebounds per game, it is unfortunate that the former Chicago Bull will be sidelined for the rest of the campaign with a hip issue.

Recently retired Tim Coenraad made his return to the NBL after the end of last season, to replace Bairstow. The 311-game legend has averaged 8.3 points, 3.5 rebounds and 1.3 assists per game over his storied career and had been training with the side on and off preceding the announcement. He will look to add another chapter to his book in the league. Next to him is Sam Froling, who has been reliable on the boards and on the scoreboard as he leads the team in rebounds (7.2) and ranks fourth (10.6) in points.

Illawarra also took the bold move of releasing young prospect Deng Adel from the roster due to a combination of his numerous injuries this season and shaky performances. Given that the forward managed meek averages of 5.9 points, 3.6 rebounds and two assists over the course of 23 games, Adel had been visibly frustrated leading up to the announcement that he would be leaving the coveted Hawks franchise.

Again, next up for Illawarra will be the Adelaide 36ers in Adelaide as both sides have a lot of writing on their meeting tonight. Either the Sixers will manage to keep a faint heartbeat on their late season charge, or Illawarra will take a huge first step to holding onto their current fourth seed. Their future is well and truly in their hands.

Picture credit: Anna Warr

Basketball returns to Auckland, Breakers conquer Kings in NZ return

AUCKLAND hosted its first match of the NBL21 season last night and the home fans were spectators to a treat, watching the New Zealand Breakers defeat the top-four seeking Sydney Kings last night, 89-81, instilling confidence in the Kiwi side as they start their tour of Aotearoa on the right foot.

After a slight scare giving up the first two buckets in front of their eager fans, the Breakers bounced back quickly to take the lead just a couple of minutes into the contest. New Zealand traded buckets with Sydney throughout the opening period and thanks to eight first quarter points from Levi Randolph, both sides were tied at 26 points apiece at the first break.

The second quarter fell the way of the Breakers, despite some solid play by the Kings’ bigs Xavier Cooks and Jarell Martin. But it was Tai Webster’s ability to knock down the triple that created some breathing room for his team. Scoring 25 points to Sydney’s 13 in the second, the Breakers could enjoy a comfortable double-digit lead at the main break.

Good momentum continued into the third for Dan Shamir’s side, outscoring the Kings 23-15 and cementing a more than substantial advantage with a quarter to go, leading 74-54. It was Finn Delany that lit up Trusts Arena throughout the second half, as he seemingly could not miss the net from long range, racking up points at will and maintaining the team’s buffer.

Things seemed relatively quiet as the Breakers looked to run out the fourth, however Sydney were not going to roll over and die – mainly because of the ladder situation they are currently in. A flurry of threes and consecutive field goals from the Kings dwindled their deficit all the way to the middle stages of the final quarter, with the Breakers’ 20-point lead minimised to just five points following a Craig Moller triple.

Both Webster and Randolph found themselves with five fouls and an early exit in the last couple of minutes, with Sydney somehow knocking on the door after being down by as much as 21 points. But late baskets from William McDowell-White and Rasmus Bach were enough to get the Breakers over the line in front of an ecstatic fan zone before a final charge could be mounted by the visitors, taking out the eight-point triumph.

With both teams shooting above 40 per cent on the night, there was little room for error. Furthermore, New Zealand’s impressive 49 per cent overall shooting was significantly higher than Sydney’s 43 per cent, and had the Breakers shot slightly worse, perhaps the Kings might have completed their comeback.

A major talking point last night was the sizeable discrepancy in three-point shooting. Led by Delany, the Breakers capitalised on 14 three-point attempts (51 per cent), whereas the Kings were good for only six of theirs (23 per cent). New Zealand also showed off their ball movement with eight more assists than their opponents (19-11).

It was ill-fated that the Purple and Gold could not make a serious impact in many of the major scoring statistics, even though Sydney were superior in several other areas such as turnovers (13-14), points in the paint (48-26), points from turnovers (13-9) and points off the bench (22-21).

Playing 38 minutes last night, Delany finished with 28 big points and 12 rebounds, knocking down four triples and hitting all six of his free throw attempts. Randolph and McDowell-White were the next highest contributors for the winning outfit with 13 points and nine rebounds, and 12 points and seven assists respectively for the two recent signings. Meanwhile, Tai and Corey Webster finished with 11 points apiece.

Casper Ware was deadly from the field going 8-19 from the floor, encapsulating a solid performance with 20 points, four rebounds and three assists. Martin was rather absent on the boards with five rebounds while still walking away with 18 points and Cooks remained the only other double-digit scorer for Sydney with 15 points.

Both these teams will do battle once again in New Zealand tomorrow night when the stage moves to New Plymouth at TSB Stadium, with New Zealand trying to give the residents of Taranaki more to cheer about. On the other hand, the Kings are at risking of losing serious ground in the standings with another loss as they pursue the Illawarra Hawks who are sitting half a game ahead at this stage.

Picture credit: Fiona Goodall/Getty Images

Kings keep finals hopes alive with strong win over Adelaide

PLAYING to keep their playoff dreams alive, it was the Sydney Kings that prevailed against Adelaide 36ers to secure a 10-point win, 85-75. The lead chopped and changed throughout the contest, highlighting the high-calibre battle it was, but in the end the class and connections of the Kings came to the fore as they notched up a handy win ahead of the seasons end.

It was all the Kings in the opening stanza as the home side proved to be damaging with ball in hand. They had no issues finding the basket nailing nine points straight to impose themselves early and then replicated that form in the latter stage of the term with another nine point to zip run to hold an 11-point margin. Jarrell Martin flexed his muscles in front of the home crowd draining 10 points while fan-favourite Casper Ware impressed with his ball handling skills to rack up six assists. Despite all the play, the 36ers got themselves back into the contest only staring down the barrel of a six-point difference at quarter time to keep them within striking distance, and that they did.

The second quarter was much improved from Adelaide who were playing their third game in New South Wales in as many days. The 36ers came out with a real pep in their step hoping to rectify the inaccuracy from the opening quarter. In fact they monopolised the play piling on 30 points to 19 credit to Daniel Johnson and his ability to convert as he stacked on six points to close out the quarter.

Holding the lead after a dominant second quarter, it looked as if Adelaide were going to inflict more pain on the Kings as Brandon Paul got busy and asserted himself on the contest. His three-point play extended Adelaide’s lead to eight but with the game slipping away from them Sydney rallied. They quickly snapped out of their slumber with both Xavier Cooks and Daniel Kickert having an immediate impact. Going on a 10-2 spree the Kings wrestled back the momentum and kept their foot on the throat to pepper the ring and add another 12 points while only limiting their opponents to two on their run of points. Overall the Kings upped the ante both in offence and defence as they prepared for a blockbuster final quarter.

Adelaide picked up where they left off  in the final quarter with the likes of Kickert, Martin and now Shaun Bruce showing their execution from range. It was exactly what the home side needed and while Adelaide worked gallantly to try and upset the apple cart it was too  little, too late. The Kings’ overall accuracy was higher than the 36ers going at 43 per cent compared to 36 per cent from the field and 51 per cent to 47 from long range. In terms of offensive pressure, the Kings also had the upper hand and that was on full display as they recorded 22 assists as opposed to 13.

Five players from Sydney managed to reach double-figures when it came to points scored as Martin topped the table with 20 to his name at 47 per cent from the field. He just fell short of a double-double picking up nine rebounds and three assists. He received good support from Jordan Hunter who piled on 15 points while 12 proved to be the magic number for Craig Moller and Kickert. Moller proved to not only have a hot hand thanks to his 12 points but also got busy off the boards credit to his 11 rebounds. Ware was influential finishing with a double-double thanks to his 13 points and 12 assists. Johnson was the most prolific player on court producing 23 points at 50 per cent and seven rebounds. Paul also impressed with 21 points in the loss as Jack McVeigh was the sole other player to hit double digits thanks to his 12 and five rebounds.

Photo credit: Mark Metcalfe

Bullets hold happy homecoming, Drmic sets career-high

AFTER nine games on the road, Brisbane’s return to Nissan Arena was a happy occasion for those in attendance, with the Bullets destroying the Sydney Kings, 93-70, in what was a pivotal game in the hunt for the third and fourth positions on the NBL ladder – headlined by a career night from Anthony Drmic.

Scoring came at a glacial pace in the opening phases of the game last night, with Brisbane converting on two attempts and the Kings converting on just one in the first four minutes of play.

A put-back jam from the newly returned Xavier Cooks – his first appearance of the season due to injury – showed a burning determination from the big man to make his first night back a successful one. However, the Kings would not hold the lead following a Drmic three-pointer heading into quarter time with Brisbane leading 20-17, three of Drmic’s nine first term points.

Producing an 8-0 run to kick off the second, Brisbane broke out to a double-digit lead early in the period. Various Bullets individuals such as Nathan Sobey, Lamar Patterson and BJ Johnson were big in what would be an explosion of offence on the way to half time.

Eventually outscoring the Kings 32-10 in the second quarter alone, Andrej Lemanis’ side had the game blown wide open at half time and were firmly in the driver’s seat with a 25-point lead.

If Sydney was going to have any chance of pulling back the deficit, their shooting would have to improve after displaying a woeful 22 per cent field goal percentage in the opening two quarters, compared to Brisbane’s stellar 51 per cent.

The Kings did open the third period with three quick consecutive baskets, but that attempt at a run was quickly thwarted after Sobey slammed down a two-handed tomahawk dunk off the turnover.

Nevertheless, Sydney did manage to whittle away some of their deficit before the start of the concluding quarter reducing their margin to 19 points, with Jordan Hunter trying his best to put points on the board as Casper Ware was failing to make a substantial impact in his 150th game.

The visitors threatened another potential comeback after closing the gap to 12 points before the Brisbane lead quickly ballooned out to 20 points once again. Following this, and with just four minutes on the clock both Ware and Jarell Martin were taken out of the game by Adam Forde given the Kings’ hectic schedule coming up.

As the clock wound down to its final seconds, a three from Thomas Vodanovich finished matters last night with Brisbane walking off winners by 23 points, a statement outcome for the NBL’s sixth ranked side.

The 50 per cent versus 31 per cent shooting efforts from both teams leaning in favour of the Bullets was the primary reason for the result, although the 46 points in the paint played a significant role in the home victory for Brisbane. While Sydney did leave the floor with a plus-seven on the boards (53-46), the Bullets made their opponents pay from deep making 10 triples, four more than the Kings.

A massive night from Drmic to say the least, as he set his new career-high in points with 28 in 31 and a half minutes of court time. He also set a personal best in threes made going seven from 10 beyond the arc and gathering five rebounds and four assists. Sobey was good for 19 points, five assists and four rebounds, whereas Patterson added 13 points and four boards to the cause. It was a good bounce-back performance from Johnson after a poor outing in his last game, finishing last night’s opener with 12 points.

No Kings were able to blow away spectators with their individual efforts despite Hunter’s 15 points and 11 rebounds. However, Martin (13 points and seven rebounds) and Jarrad Weeks (10 points and four rebounds) were productive enough to crack double digit points apiece. Ware will enjoy some heavy thinking on the way back to the hotel after compiling a lacklustre six points in almost 28 minutes of play.

Brisbane open up another game at home Saturday afternoon with the defending champion Perth Wildcats flying east to face them, and Sydney will also provide hosting duties when the Adelaide 36ers look to create more drama in the race for the top four this Sunday.

DJ spoils Kings party with stunning overtime effort

DANIEL ‘DJ’ Johnson single-handedly ripped the game away from Sydney Kings and helped his Adelaide 36ers to a memorable overtime victory in a stunning National Basketball League (NBL) overtime thriller last night. The teams were evenly poised at 81-apiece after four quarters, and that was when Johnson came to play, nailing 13 of his side’s 16 points to leave the home side in his wake and keep his team in the hunt for finals with the 97-88 victory.

The teams were delicately matched as Sydney headed into the contest with a 14-13 record compared to Adelaide’s 13-15 ratio, and the latter was in more desperate need of a win. The 36ers were coming off back-to-back wins, whilst the Kings lost their last outing, making the visitors the more in-form side of the pairing. However it was Sydney that stormed to the early lead, scoring 19-16 in the first term, and then 28-18 in the second to open up a 13-point advantage at the main break. Sensing the importance of getting back in the contest quickly, the 36ers hit back in the third with 24-11 to draw level heading into the last quarter.

Symbolic of most of the game, the teams were evenly poised throughout the final term with multiple lead changes, and the Kings holding as much as a five-point advantage with 2:40 on the clock once Tom Vodanovich nailed a three-point jump shot. Young gun Josh Giddey quickly drove through the lane to cut the deficit to a single possession and then the multi-faceted Isaac Humphries made no mistake from beyond the arc to tie the game with 1:39 remaining. The teams had a combined five misses in the final 90 seconds, with Daniel Kickert‘s last second jump shot not able to hit the mark.

Jordan Hunter scored the first points 12 seconds into the overtime period, but it was all Johnson and his side from there, with a turnaround jumper followed by Sunday Dech making a three-pointer to hand his side the lead by that margin. With the game on the line, Johnson came to play, nailing both free throws off a foul then back-to-back three pointers and the margin had blown out to 11 points with 1:24 on the timer. Vodanovich desperately clawed back two points, but a third consecutive triple from Johnson for his side secured the win with a heavy 12-point advantage, the 36ers’ largest of the game. Vodanovich scored a consolation triple to cut the final deficit to nine points, but it would not be enough to get over the line.

The 36ers topped the field goal percentage marginally, with a higher volume of long-range successes, whilst absolutely dominating the rebounds (57-40), and winning the assists (26-24), blocks (10-5) and second chance points (33-8). The Kings were admirable with more steals (4-2), far less turnovers (5-10) and therefore had more points from turnovers (14-7).

Johnson won the Player of the Match for his clutch effort, scoring the only three triples of the night in overtime to finish with 20 points, nine rebounds and two assists. Across four quarters, it was hard to look past young gun Giddey who racked up his third triple-double of the season, collecting 11 points, 12 rebounds and 12 assists. Brandon Paul (19 points, six rebounds, two assists and two blocks), Humphries (11 points, eight rebounds and six blocks), Tony Crocker (12 points) and Keanu Pinder (11 points, four rebounds) were all double-digit scorers.

Sydney Kings had plenty of contributors too, led by Jarrell Martin (25 points, seven rebounds), with Casper Ware (17 points, nine assists and four rebounds) leading the transitional offence. Also hitting big numbers were Hunter (13 points, eight rebounds, four blocks and two assists), Shaun Bruce (12 points, five assists and three rebounds), and Vodanovich off the bench (13 points, five rebounds).

The 36ers take on Illawarra Hawks tomorrow night on the road in a quick turnaround, whilst the Kings travel up to Brisbane to face the Bullets at Nissan Arena on Thursday.

Picture credit: Mark Metcalfe/Getty Images