The Sydney Kings have used a season best opening half to hold off a fast finishing Perth Wildcats. The Wildcats now await a possible suspension to centre, Matt Hodgson, as he was ejected during the third quarter.
A 55-point first half propelled the Kings to a strong win over momentary the ladder leaders, Perth Wildcats.
It was a strong opening quarter, in which star forward, Jaylen Adams (30 points, seven rebounds, nine assists), took control from beyond the arc, and inside, scoring 13 first quarter points.
In what started as a shootout during the first quarter, it was the Kings’ defence, as well as the dominance on the backboard, that allowed them to create some space on the scoreboard early.
Xavier Cooks (13 points, eight rebounds) and Jarell Martin (22 point, eight rebounds) brought the heat early on the Wildcats’ defence, being a menace around the paint, and instigating multiple Kings’ runs during the first half.
With the news coming during the week surrounding border closures, the Wildcats looked a team lacking of confidence and hope with no energy sparking any fight. The Kings, on the back of their best opening half of the season, led 55-38 at the main break.
The news however, only got worse in the second half, as centre Matt Hodgson came to blows with Kings guard, Dejan Vasiljevic. The two began exchanging words before two shoves to the face escalated a brawl, a disqualifying foul, and possible suspension to the Perth big man.
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Coach Scott Morrison spoke after the game regarding the incident.
“I’m not sure what took so long, [Matt Hodgson] knew he was getting ejected, we knew he was,” he said.
“One of the things of me coming here and being new and stuff, is I don’t know what the hell is going on, or who anyone is… so I’m gonna sit back and wait for the league to make a ruling.”
While an act of poor discipline, it did ignite the fire under the Wildcats, sparking a turn of form, and making the game a contest in what seemed like a finished game.
Vic Law (20 points, nine rebounds and four assists) was outstanding in the second half, with he along with Bryce Cotton (20 points, six assists) leading their team to an unlikely comeback, nailing shot after shot in the third.
However, it was the Kings who were able to control the game down the stretch, with Vasiljevic (13 points) and Shaun Bruce (nine points) steadying the ship and finding ways to score to hold off any chance of a comeback.
Sydney Kings coach, Chase Buford, credited his teams defence for the victory.
“That’s an elite offensive team, probably the two best scorers in the competition [Law and Cotton]… I thought our guys did a hell of a job on them,” he said.
The Wildcats coach put the spotlight on his team post-game, lamenting energy and a lack of execution as just some of the reasons for the result tonight.
“We got out-played, got out-coached, got out-worked,” emphasising his team’s consistent slow starts are just not good enough moving forward.
“The start, and the middle wasn’t much better, to. be honest, it’s the same things every time.”
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