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GAME REPORT

No Cooks, No Worries for Kings in Cairns

No Xavier Cooks, no worries for the Sydney Kings as they inflicted more pain on the Cairns Taipans with a seventh straight win to return to the NBL top four after Sunday's 86-77 victory.

A big factor in the Kings' hot form of late has been the all-round performances of Cooks, but he missed Sunday's clash at Cairns Convention Centre with an ankle sprain so his teammates needed to step up.

They did that in spades too and despite the Taipans battling to try and bounce back from a disappointing home loss to the Tasmania JackJumpers on Friday night, the Kings are just on another level right now.

The win means that it's the first time the Kings have gone on a seven-game winning streak since 2008 as they now begin a string of seven consecutive road matches as they attempt to lock in a finals appearance.

Sydney dominated most of the game even though Cairns showed better fighting spirit. The Kings led by as much as 22 but credit to the Taipans for scoring 18 of the last 22 points.

Jaylen Adams was superb once more for the Kings at the point with another 24 points, seven assists and four rebounds. Jarell Martin might have battled foul trouble but still put up 15 points and four boards.

DJ Vasiljevic scored 13 points while Ian Clark added 12.

Kings coach Chase Buford was delighted with the performance defensively the whole night, but not so much the offence late in the piece.

"Especially when you've got your rock not there for us on the defensive end, I'm just proud of the win," Buford said. 

"Obviously we could have played better than we did and getting outscored by 10 in the last five minutes and still winning by nine tells you how well we played for the first 35 minutes. Our defence was terrific throughout the night and after 35 minutes they had 62 points, so that's pretty darn good."

Tahjere McCall went 4/9 from deep on his way to 21 points, six rebounds, six assists and three steals for the Snakes with Majok Deng adding 20 points and eight boards, and Bul Kuol 15 points.

Taipans coach Adam Forde couldn’t fault his team's effort and liked the fight they showed to the end. Now it's just all about figuring out how to be able to produce that for longer.

"I think you could see it in those last few minutes and I wish there was a fifth period for us because that's how we want to go about it. After Friday I was extremely disappointed of the way we went about our business and it was looking of rough too especially in that first quarter," Forde said.

"You could think at one point when you're down 22 points and this is what disappointed me about Tassie and what I appreciated about the effort in that last period because you could roll over and be defeated. 

"Or you can have a bit of pride and take ownership, and represent the jersey and the community and put a bit of fighting spirit into it. There was still a lot of missed shots and turnovers, but I can't fault the effort. 

"Everybody needs to play like that the entire game. Once we unlock that secret we'll bottle it up and use it for the rest of the season."

Coming off what their coach called an embarrassing night on Friday, the Taipans started well with a pair of Keanu Pinder free-throws and then a Bul Kuol triple. However, the Kings then worked into the game and scored 17 of the game's next 18 points to suddenly lead 17-6.

Jaylen Adams, Jarell Martin and DJ Vasiljevic were all just getting started and then Ian Clark closed the quarter with a three ball of his own for Sydney to lead 27-15.

The Kings weren’t done yet and Vasiljevic hit the first five points of the second quarter to stretch their lead to 17. Angus Glover then drained a triple as well to throw the gauntlet right down to the home team to respond.

The Taipans were in love with the three ball and Tahjere McCall and Kuol did drain one each, and eventually they did get the margin back to single figures, but by half-time Sydney was still in control leading 44-31.

Trading three-pointers to start the second half wasn’t quite how Cairns were going to back into it. Kuol and McCall hit from deep for the Taipans, but Martin hit two up the other end for the Kings.

While you couldn’t fault the endeavour of the Snakes, by late in the third period the margin was out to 17 again and still 14 by three quarter-time.

By the time Adams nailed a wide open triple three minutes into the fourth quarter, the Kings' lead was back to 18 and effectively the contest was over. Martin and Adams hit threes to put the margin out to 22 and even though Cairns finished the game out well, the Kings still won by nine.

The Taipans next take on the Adelaide 36ers on the road on Friday night while the Kings face a massive clash with the South East Melbourne Phoenix in Melbourne on Saturday.

HUNGRY JACK'S NBL ROUND 15

CAIRNS TAIPANS 77 (McCall 21, Deng 20, Kuol 15)

SYDNEY KINGS 86 (Adams 24, Martin 15, Vasiljevic 13) 

BOX SCORE

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