Hungry Jack's NBL
Kings Show Firepower in Win Over Taipans
The Sydney Kings got plenty of contributors to keep their winning form going and to be too much for the undermanned Cairns Taipans to handle in Sunday's 98-88 win at Qudos Bank Arena.
Despite the absence of Tahjere McCall, Mirko Djeric and Nate Jawai, the Taipans put up a spirited effort on the back of the work of point guard Scott Machado and big man Stephen Zimmerman, but the Kings just proved too much to stop.
The Kings came into Indigenous Round in the NBL as the hottest team in the league and they were able to keep that going in front of their season-high home crowd of 9112 people.
Not only was it the sixth straight win for the Kings to move them back into fourth position ahead of the Illawarra Hawks at least for now, but their offensive weaponry was again on show as they scored 90-plus points for the fourth time in the last five matches.
There were plenty of players who stood up for Sydney but again it was Xavier Cooks (23 points, 12 rebounds, four assists, three blocks) and Jaylen Adams (21 points, four assists, 5/7 from deep) showing the way.
They had plenty of help too with 18 points and 10 rebounds from Jarell Martin, 15 points from Ian Clark, and 11 points and three assists from DJ Vasiljevic.
Sydney coach Chase Buford wasn’t totally happy with the defensive performance, but it makes it easier to work on that when the offence clicks so well.
"Credit to Cairns, they came out and played well, hit some shots and got to the line really well and did a good job on the offensive boards," Buford said.
"I think it's three games in-a-row now where our defence isn’t quite up to the standard or level that we hold ourselves too, but I thought offensively we did a good job of attacking their pressure, playing behind their press and going to get easy baskets in transition frequently throughout the night. That makes those answers a little bit better."
The Taipans made a game of it and put up a good fight with Scott Machado producing 26 points and seven assists in a fascinating point guard battle with Adams.
Stephen Zimmerman fought valiantly inside too to finish with 16 points, 13 rebounds and five assists with Majok Deng contributing 14 points, Bul Kuol 10 and Keanu Pinder nine.
Cairns coach Adam Forde couldn’t fault the fighting spirit of his team but there's still some areas he'd like to fix up.
"We competed and they went on a couple of different runs, especially in that third quarter where we failed in a couple of areas with our pick up points, rotations and overhelping unnecessarily," Forde said.
"They made us pay for that. There were a few areas we need to tidy up in but I commend the guys for the way they competed and stayed in the contest, and didn’t back down from the challenge."
The Taipans made it a focus to go inside to Stephen Zimmerman early and he delivered their first two baskets, and the Snakes started well to go up 11-7 when Bul Kuol hit a three. However, when Jaylen Adams hit his second triple early the Kings were back in it and then Xavier Cooks drew them level.
Things remained tight the rest of the opening quarter and the two teams were locked at 25-25 by quarter-time before the Snakes opened up the second period with a Kuol three ball.
The Kings responded with a Cooks offensive board and putback, and then a Shaun Bruce triple leading to an Adam Forde timeout.
The Taipans responded well and a Jarrod Kenny make from beyond the arc had them back in front, but only briefly until Jarell Martin converted a three-point play.
The Snakes then turned their focus back to Zimmerman inside and he helped them back on top, but Sydney closed the half strongly including a triple from Ian Clark and another putback slam from Cooks on the buzzer for the 47-44 edge.
DJ Vasiljevic and Deng traded three-pointers to open the second half but the Kings kept the roll going with Martin and Adams also hitting from deep to stretch the lead out to eight.
That was then 11 when Cooks threw down yet another putback jam, and still by three quarter-time the Kings were in control leading 73-61.
The Taipans gave themselves a sniff of a comeback to start the fourth period with six quick points, but the Kings responded starting with a Vasiljevic jumper and five quick points from Adams.
From there Sydney was able to do enough for the 10-point win to keep their winning run going and inflict some more pain on the Taipans despite their fighting effort.
The Taipans return home to face the Tasmania JackJumpers on Friday night. Sydney is next in action again against the Snakes on Sunday but this time in Far North Queensland.
HUNGRY JACK'S NBL ROUND 14
SYDNEY KINGS 98 (Cooks 23, Adams 21, Martin 18)
CAIRNS TAIPANS 88 (Machado 26, Zimmerman 16, Deng 14)