Former NBA no overall pick and 2015 NBA Champion played his best game as a member of the Sydney Kings. The former, most notable, Golden State Warrior and Milwaukee Buck recorded 21 points, 15 rebounds, 4 assists, 3 blocks and two steals in the Kings’ 86-79 victory over the Illawarra Hawks. He was also very efficient, shooting 9-13 from the floor.
Kings’ coach Andrew Gaze was very complimentary of Bogut’s performance, saying this:
Some of the stuff that was going on – when I saw that down the middle hellacious dunk it was quite extraordinary and we as coaches looked at each other and said ‘oh my goodness this is unbelievable’.
“That was spectacular, but it was his hands, his activity on the D, and I thought we saw what he is capable of in the low block as well.
Early in the second quarter, he received the ball beyond the three-point line, took off for basket, crossed over on the dribble then launched himself at the rim, throwing down a monster left-hand dunk right over the unfortunate AJ Ogilvy.
It set the stadium alight and the Kings fed off his dominance, particularly in a first quarter when they restricted the Hawks to just three field goals in taking a 27-12 lead.
Lisch (12 points, five rebounds, three assists) celebrated his 200th game with the first field goal in the contest – fittingly, a three-pointer – and scored the Kings’ opening five points as a Bogut jam and Brad Newley three got the Kings off to an explosive 14-4 start.
Forced to call for time with his team restricted to a solitary field goal in the opening five minutes, Illawarra coach Beveridge tried to ring the changes, but it was all to no avail as the Kings ran riot.
A dunk from Brian Conklin (12 points, five rebounds, four assists) lifted their spirits, but the Hawks had no answers for Bogut, who was dominant at both ends of the floor.
The superstar pivot had two scores, blocked a pair of shots and keyed everything Sydney did as the home team roared to their impressive first quarter advantage.
After Ogilvy had a pair of buckets to open the scoring in the second quarter, Bogut’s poster jam kicked off a 6-0 run that pushed the Kings out to a 35-18 lead.
Everything was going right for the Kings – even a desperation David Wear jumper at the shot clock buzzer banked in for three – and a Newley (10 points, eight rebounds, three assists) basket gave them a 20-point lead over a Hawks unit missing Cedric Jackson, who had a groin issue.
Sydney’s lead grew to 22 on the back of eight straight points, but to their immense credit, Illawarra showed great fight down the stretch.
A late 7-0 run of their own capped by a Conklin steal and jam kept them in it, down 52-35 at intermission.
Bogut continued his stellar play as the third quarter got underway, finding Wear with a beautiful pass for the deuce and scoring inside, and despite the Hawks raising their intensity, the Kings held sway with a 19-point advantage.
But sloppy turnovers haunted Sydney in the quarter – they committed seven in the frame – and the Hawks scrapped and clawed their way back into the game.
Tim Coenraad (16 points, three rebounds, three assists, three steals) came off the bench for five points, and despite Jerome Randle (13 points) coming up with a pair of spectacular plays, the gutsy Illawarra squad reduced the Kings’ advantage to just 15 points with one quarter remaining.
Kyle Adnam (nine points, five assists) got the quarter off to a bright start for the home team with a pair of slick passes leading to buckets, and the Kings held the Hawks scoreless for more than four minutes as they looked to close it out in style.
Sydney led by 19 points with four minutes left, but still the Hawks refused to yield.
Throwing out a chaotic full-court trap that forced multiple errors from the Kings, Illawarra kept coming, and in the blink of an eye had ripped off 10 straight points to make it 84-77 Sydney with a minute left.
But they had left themselves with too much work to do, and a nervy Kings’ unit survived.
While proud of his team’s fight, Beveridge bemoaned the third straight game where a slow start ultimately doomed the Hawks.
“You try and motivate the guys and when you’re on the road you have to throw the first punch,” Beveridge said.
“You have to be the aggressor, but we weren’t. We were on the back foot right from the start.
“To me it’s a complete mindset thing and mentally our guys just aren’t ready to play. I think there has to be some change and some real accountability.”
Illawarra’s second straight loss sees them fall to 2-4 ahead of a home-home double in Round 5 –Thursday against Melbourne United and Sunday against the Perth Wildcats.
Sydney improves to 3-2 with the third straight win ahead of a Monday night clash in Melbourne against the defending champions.