Sydney Kings celebrating their win after a two game slide. (Image: @SydneyKings - Twitter)

The Sydney Kings turned around a tough first quarter, finding ways to get back into the game, keeping their top two hopes almost solidified in a game that had implications for both sides.

Derrick Walton Jr set the tone for the Kings offensively, but the JackJumpers went through Milton Doyle and Rashard Kelly early.

As a collective unit, the JackJumpers forced the Kings into nine turnovers in the first quarter, extending the half-court defence and converting those turnovers into easy points. The Kings struggled to find any flow offensively due to the JackJumpers controlling the game on their terms.

The JackJumpers couldn’t find an answer to stop Dejan Vasiljevic and Walton Jr. Both combined for 21 points both shooting at 57 and 60 per cent respectively. The star pair helped the Kings go on a 16 to three scoring run to give their side the lead in the later stages of the second quarter.

All the momentum the JackJumpers created in the first quarter vanished, with Vasiljevic shooting the ball from anywhere, whilst Xavier Cooks and Walton Jr continued to be aggressive on the offensive end.

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Kings had answers from the second quarter onwards, stars stepped up

After a 25-15 first quarter from the JackJumpers, the Kings had all the answers from the second quarter onwards, scoring 37-14 for the quarter which set up the victory for the Kings.

The Kings lifted their ball movement through Walton Jr, finding the likes of Xavier Cooks to run the floor and be aggressive, finishing the game with 12 points, six rebounds, and one steal.

The Kings were able to keep the JackJumpers’ key players quiet, including Will Magnay, who finished the game with six points after posing problems in the post. Only two players finished the game in double figures, with Isaac White and Rashard Kelly finishing with 11 points and 10 points respectively.

Dejan Vasiljevic was unstoppable from the field, finishing with 24 points, and five rebounds, shooting at 60 per cent from the field and 63 per cent from three.

Although Isaac White gave a spark off the bench, the Kings were able to limit the tempo and run and JackJumpers had, dominating the defensive rebound count at the end of the game.

Speaking to the media post-game, Sydney Kings coach Chase Buford spoke about his team’s response and getting the offence going that set the tone for the rest of the game.

“It was really not a good start for us on a lot of levels,” Buford said.

“A team like Tassie, that’s what they do. They beat you on extra possessions and get more shots than you. They shot 18 more shots tonight than us and one more free throw which is not a very easy ratio to overturn the way we did.

“We did shoot 60 per cent from the floor after a dismal first quarter. The guys really got out and ran in transition.

“We just look to run at every opportunity and led to a lot of easy baskets in transition.”

Buford spoke about the groove his team found, shooting 14 from 16 for the quarter and talking about his team having weapons to shoot the ball.

“I thought our shot quality was really good in the second quarter,” he said.

“A lot of layups, a lot of easy baskets at the rim. Credit to the guys for getting on the rim for sharing it and finding those easy looks.”

JackJumpers must find a way to bounce back, crunch game against Wildcats

Friday night’s game was one that the JackJumpers will be disappointed about, after a promising first quarter.

When the JackJumpers are on a roll for four consistent quarters, they are tough to guard, especially when they go on a scoring run.

With shots not dropping and being forced to take tough shots and key players unable to find their impact on the game, Sunday’s game against the Perth Wildcats will be a game that the JackJumpers will look to go again and find ways to continue their good starts to games and build the pressure for four quarters.

The Sydney Kings now face the South East Melbourne Phoenix at home to finish the weekend on Sunday afternoon at Qudos Bank Arena, in another big game that could shape the finals picture.

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