Hungry Jack's NBL
Kings Dominate United to Clear Out on Top
The final scoreline didn’t tell the whole story of Sydney Kings' dominance on Sunday to put them one win from equalling a club record after beating old foes Melbourne United 111-101 at Qudos Bank Arena.
On the back of monster games from Casper Ware and Jae'Sean Tate who combined for 52 points, Sydney gained revenge in spades for their only loss of the #NBL20 season to Melbourne in Round 5 leading by as much as 24 throughout the afternoon.
The ladder-leading Kings move to 11-1 for the season – one win short of the club’s best ever start to an NBL campaign of 12-1, a feat achieved by the Kings’ 2007/08 and 2003/04 sides, the latter going on to win the championship.
Only six teams in NBL history have a better record than the Kings after 12 games. However, Sydney still has a way to go to overhaul the 20-1 record the Geelong Supercats built in 1984.
Ware had another outstanding game against his old club to go with the 34 points he scored in Round 5.
He danced and drove his way to the basket for 27 points on 9/14 shooting, including a buzzer-beating three in the shadows of half-time to extend the Kings’ lead to 65-50. Ware also contributed five assists.
In an ominous warning to the Kings’ rivals, Ware said the Kings hadn’t peaked and would only get better – especially with the injured Kevin Lisch, Craig Moller and new recruit Xavier Cooks to come into the team.
"We want to play a 40-minute game, I think this was as close as we got to playing a whole 40-minute game," he said.
"There wasn’t too many lows during this game, but we can get better, that’s the scary thing about it. We can fix a few things, you know where in finals it might hurt us. We got a lot of guys that are just winners and we know it’s going to get harder in finals."
Small forward Tate continues to thrive in the NBL, and his lively display netted 25 points on 8/10 shooting and six rebounds. Back-up guard Deshon Taylor also had his best game in Kings colours with 12 points and three assists.
Melbourne guard Melo Trimble was outstanding in a beaten side, scoring a game-high 32 points - the ninth time he has scored 20-plus points in a game this season.
Chris Goulding chipped in with 18 points and centre Shawn Long 13 points and three blocks before fouling out early in the fourth quarter and despite pulling in just one rebound. Andrew Bogut had nine points, eight rebounds and three assists in just over 20 minutes opposed to him.
Although Melbourne outscored Sydney 23-15 in the final quarter to make the score more respectable, United coach Dean Vickerman didn’t sugar-coat his team’s performance.
"For a long part of it we got our ass kicked today. “What was the cause of it? Their ability to continue to just attack our bodies and the 24 free throws at half-time is really high and has me searching a little bit for how we contain it a little bit better," Vickerman said.
“Obviously Shea Ili’s one who has the ability to keep people in front of him, a healthy Casey Prather can help us do that as well.
"And then we’ve got to find out ways when they do attack us how to not foul because that was the biggest difference in the game, their continual heat on the rim and their continual off-the dribble attack.
"It was a battle today and I liked the way we just stuck around and fought through it. It could have been a heavy blowout today."
They say charity begins at home, but Melbourne’s generosity on the road helped the Kings to a 10-point quarter-time lead. Seventeen of the Kings’ 35 points came from the free-throw line as Melbourne gave away 12 fouls for the quarter.
It was a trend that plagued Melbourne throughout the match, with 33 of the Kings’ points coming from the charity stripe. As well, Melbourne starters David Barlow and Long both fouled out less than three minutes into the final term.
Inspired by Trimble, Melbourne cut Sydney’s lead to eight less than three minutes into the third term, but United’s joy was short-lived as the Kings regained control and shot out to a 96-78 advantage heading into the final term.
The Kings can create club history by beating Perth in the west next Friday and Cairns at home on the Sunday. There was no sign of the Kings’ new recruit Xavier Cooks against United, but Sydney is hopeful of him suiting up against the Wildcats.
Melbourne slipped to 7-6 for the season having lost in Cairns on Friday and will try to prevent a third straight defeat when it hosts Adelaide at home next Saturday.
NBL ROUND 9
SYDNEY KINGS 111 (Ware 27, Tate 25, Newley 14)
MELBOURNE UNITED 101 (Trimble 32, Goulding 18, Long 13)