Hungry Jack's NBL
Kings Start, Finish Strongly to Overpower Breakers
DJ Vasiljevic came out with a vengeance at Qudos Bank Arena on Sunday helping the Sydney Kings open up a big lead on the New Zealand Breakers and then shutting the door on a comeback in the 84-65 victory.
After New Zealand shocked Sydney with an 18-1 run last time to come from behind to win, the Kings this time around shook off the Breakers' fightback to close this one scoring 15 of the last 18 points.
The Kings had been in their best run of form of the season coming into Friday's clash in Tasmania where they lost to the JackJumpers, but they returned home on Sunday determined to make amends.
Vasiljevic himself had just five points on 1/7 shooting on Friday, but he took no time making up for that back in front of the Kings faithful. He scored two of the game's first three baskets before closing the first quarter with two three balls to put his team up 13.
He hit another triple and made three free-throws to have 16 points in the first half with the Kings leading by as much as 22.
However, the Breakers weren’t giving up the fight yet and they were able to hold Sydney to nine third-quarter points to close the deficit to nine by three quarter-time.
Next Star Ousmane Dieng was feeling it and hit three triples to start the fourth term and suddenly the Breakers were a chance. But Vasiljevic shut the door with another three and Sydney took out the 19-point win.
Vasiljevic finished with 23 points including 4/8 from deep with Jaylen Adams delivering 17 points, seven rebounds, six assists and three steals, Jarell Martin 13 points and 11 rebounds, Wani Swaka Lo Buluk nine points, and Angus Glover eight along with three boards and two assists.
Kings coach Chase Buford was delighted with the bounce back from Friday's loss.
"It was another great defensive performance. To hold them to 32 per cent shooting even though they were 34 per cent from three, that's really good," Buford said.
"I thought our defence at the rim was terrific, the way X and Jarrel guarded down there and then the rest of the guys were fighting over screens.
"I'm just really, really pleased with the defensive performance and then we rebounded the ball terrifically as well. We gave them a few more second chance opportunities that we would have liked, but at the end of the day they didn’t score on any of them.
"I'm really proud of the effort and the fightback to play as few guys as we did to play two games in 36 hours. That took a lot out of them so I appreciate the effort they gave and I'm really pleased."
Ousmane Dieng hit 4/8 from downtown having gone 6/39 for the season coming into the game for 14 points and five rebounds for New Zealand. Yanni Wetzell added 16 points, Finn Delany 11 and Peyton Siva 11.
Breakers coach Dan Shamir was disappointed to not see the same energy and effort that he did in Wednesday's ultra-impressive win over the Hawks.
"Disappointing is an understatement. A few days ago we played extremely hard with a lot of great possessions on effort and defence touching the ball, and getting in passing lanes and making our opponents feel us," Shamir said.
"We didn’t do it at the beginning of this game and gave up 50 points. We struggled defensively the whole game with a little bit of shot making, Sydney's schemes are obviously to pack the paint and challenge you to shoot.
"If you are making them then things open up a bit, if not then you have to win in an ugly by defending, running and getting easy points. Once we didn’t do that, we fell down 20."
Desperate to make up for Friday's loss in Tasmania, the Kings came out breathing fire on Sunday with DJ Vasiljevic hitting two quick buckets as part of a 6-0 run.
Eventually New Zealand scored thanks to Ousmane Dieng, but Sydney had come to play and soon went on another 8-0 streak to go up 16-6.
The Breakers did respond with a Yanni Wetzell three-point play and a triple from Kyrin Galloway, but then Vasiljevic knocked down back-to-back three-point bombs for Sydney.
That put the home team up 25-13 before a triple for New Zealand on the buzzer from Peyton Siva.
There was no let up for the Breakers to start the second term either with Sydney hitting the opening seven points. Then when Vasiljevic hit his third three of the half, the Kings were up 35-18 which soon became 40-18 with a 15-2 run to start the period.
New Zealand had to dig deep and they did with a couple of long-range bombs from Finn Delany. Then despite the 12 first-half points from Yanni Wetzell, Vasiljevic put up 16 for the Kings who dominated the glass with 27 rebounds to 17 to go into the break in control 51-35.
Vasiljevic put the Kings back up 18 to start the second half, but the Breakers had come out motivated to get back into the contest. They turned up the heat at the defensive end and then their shots started to fall.
With Wetzell an imposing presence inside, the outside shots opened up and Will McDowell-White, Dieng and Siva all connected to make it an eight-point ball game.
Sydney's lead was still just nine by three quarter-time but the Breakers were still warming up to the challenge with memories of how well they closed out the last meeting between the two teams.
Dieng had his best patch of the season so far knocking down three from long-range in the first three and-a-half minutes of the last term to bring the Breakers within seven points.
Sydney did well to respond with a bucket to Angus Glover and another three to Vasiljevic pushed the margin back out to double-figures. The Kings then secured the win with the last 10 points to take out the 19-point win.
The Kings now head to Melbourne to take on the South East Melbourne Phoenix on Thursday while the Breakers are back up next Sunday against the Cairns Taipans in the Far North.
HUNGRY JACK'S NBL ROUND 10
SYDNEY KINGS 84 (Vasiljevic 23, Adams 17, Martin 13)
NEW ZEALAND BREAKERS 65 (Wetzell 16, Dieng 14, Siva 11, Delany 11)