The Sydney Kings have taken just two days to get back in the NBL winner’s circle with a nailbiting 86-82 win over the Cairns Taipans.
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On the quick back-up after a seven-point loss to Illawarra on Saturday, the Kings flew to far North Queensland with their sights set on securing top spot on the ladder on Monday night.
For large chunks of time, the visitors looked to have the game in their grasp against the bottom-placed Taipans, but they had to withstand several fightbacks.
The Kings led by 11 at quarter-time, eight at halftime and eight again at the final break, but the lead changed four times in the last term before the Kings steadied late to win by four.
Andrew Bogut once again reminded the basketball community why he’s in MVP contention with 15-points and 16-rebounds.
Bogut took slight overall honours against fellow Boomer Nate Jawai, who added 16 points and eight boards for the home side, as well as a career-high seven assists.
Jawai rued the Taipans’ slow start as the Kings led by 14 points at one stage in the opening term.
“I think we shot ourselves in the foot,” he said.
“They are a good team and that’s what they do. You have to execute and take good shots.” The Kings were not short of contributors, with Kevin Lisch (18), Jerome Randle (16) and Brad Newley (10) knocking up double digits.
Randle went 0-6 in the opening half but found his range in the second half.
“The shots just weren’t falling. I knew at some point they would start falling. I knew I had to be aggressive and get to the basket,” the American said post-match.
“We knew this was a danger game. They came off a win and we came off a loss and I feel like their confidence was at an all-time high.”
Struggling from long range — Cairns went 2-18 from the perimeter in the opening three quarters — it was the three-point shooting of Melo Trimble who led the Taipans fightback.
The import finished with 10 points in the final term for a team tally high of 22 points.
The Snakes knocked down five three-pointers in the last quarter to give themselves a chance of an upset.
Cairns captain Alex Loughton, celebrating his 300th NBL match, hit two from long range to finish with 10 points for the match.
The Kings head back to their home court to face the in-form New Zealand Breakers on Friday night, while Cairns face the daunting task of travelling to Perth to face a smarting Wildcats that evening.