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Lisch hurt in tough Kings win

The Sydney Kings overcame the loss of their best player and a heated moment from their uncompromising new enforcer to beat the Cairns Taipans 92-78 on Saturday night at Qudos Bank Arena. Sydney were trailing by four late in the third quarter when reigning NBL MVP Kevin Lisch suffered a blow to the head – his second for the night – and had to be helped to the locker room. Kings coach Andrew Gaze later confirmed that his star had passed the concussion test and needed four stitches for a cut to his ear. The game flared up two minutes into the final period when newly-acquired Kings import Josh Powell was whistled for an unsportsmanlike foul on Cairns forward Mark Worthington, shoving the Snakes veteran in frustration after an offensive foul. Taipans guard Mitch McCarron was then hit with a technical foul after getting in Powell’s face. When the dust finally settled from a thrilling third term, Lisch was done for the night and the Kings needed someone to carry them home in crunch time, down 66-65 with a quarter to play. Enter superstar-in-waiting Jason Cadee, who signalled his intentions with a bold three on the three-quarter time buzzer. But he was just warming up. Cadee hit big shot after big shot, pouring in 17 points in the final period to finish with a game-high 23. “I feel like I’ve matured and learned a lot,” Cadee said post-game. “I feel like I’m really finding my spot in the team. “When we lost Kev, I took it upon myself to be really aggressive and it worked out well.” As good as Cadee was in crunch time, Sydney’s dominant player on the night was American forward Greg Whittington, who scored 16 of his 21 points in the first half when none of his teammates were firing. Whittington also finished with nine rebounds, four steals and two blocks. An energised Whittington powered the Kings to a 7-0 start, scoring on a baseline drive and hitting a three, but the Taipans worked their way back and took their first lead late in the opening period. Cairns centre Nate Jawai, who made his season debut, made his presence felt as soon as he entered the game with a bone-rattling pick on Lisch. Lisch was visibly shaken and missed his next three shots, but Whittington was on fire with 14 points in the quarter. Cairns got 12 points off the bench, including Mitch McCarron’s buzzer-beating triple for a 24-23 quarter-time lead. The Taipans kept their noses in front as the pace slowed considerably in the second period and missed shots piled up at both ends. Sydney responded again, forging ahead 40-38 on a perfectly executed alley-oop between Lisch and Whittington. Lisch nailed a midrange jump-shot a minute later and the Kings took a 42-39 lead into the locker room. Whittington had 16 points and six rebounds, while Nnanna Egwu led Cairns with 10 points, four rebounds and two blocks. The Taipans came out with more hunger than the Kings in the third quarter and built a six-point lead, and just when the Kings were fighting back, Lisch went down after another collision. He was helped to his feet after a few minutes, heading to the locker room and playing no further part in the match. Less than two minutes had ticked away in the fourth period when Powell was called for the offensive foul on Worthington in trying to win good post position, leading to his unsportsmanlike foul. Players from both sides converged, resulting in McCarron copping a technical foul for approaching Powell in defence of his teammate. Cadee took it upon himself to shoulder the scoring load down the stretch and the Kings ended up running away with it, as the Taipans repeatedly failed to execute. "We're just not playing great hoops right now,” Taipans coach Aaron Fearne said. “Everything's against the grain. "When you get chances on the road you have to take them, and we had our chances." The Kings take on the New Zealand Breakers in Auckland next Thursday, while the Taipans face a Friday night road clash with the Adelaide 36ers.   SYDNEY KINGS 92 (Cadee 23, Whittington 21, Newley 13) CAIRNS TAIPANS 78 (Gliddon 13, Egwu 12, Trice 10, McCarron 10) BOX SCORE
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