Drama might continue to follow this New Zealand Breakers team but one thing they continue to do is play relatively well at Spark Arena, and that was again the case on Monday night as they disposed of the Brisbane Bullets 96-85.
The Breakers haven’t enjoyed hitting the road so far in #NBL20 losing on all six attempts including in Cairns on Friday night, but they improved to 4-3 at home on the season following Monday’s win against a Bullets team far too reliant on superstar import Lamar Patterson.
Following Friday’s loss in Cairns, New Zealand had another incident surrounding Glen Rice Jr to deal with, but they addressed his second arrest in a matter of weeks by releasing him from his contract coinciding with the return of the man he’d replaced, Scotty Hopson.
They also welcomed back Corey Webster but lost RJ Hampton with a hip complaint, but on the back of Webster impressing in the first half, captain Tom Abercrombie catching fire in the third quarter and Hopson finding confidence in the fourth, the Breakers proved too strong.
Webster would top-score with 23 points while Abercrombie added 19 and Hopson 14 with 12 of those coming in the fourth quarter. Finn Delany also enjoyed playing a bigger role minus Rice by putting up 14 points, eight rebounds and three assists.
Patterson sent a reminder that he is a genuine MVP fancy this season by doing all he could for Brisbane despite coming off the bench.
He was near unstoppable from the moment he hit the floor and played just about the whole rest of the game to finish with 36 points and six assists while shooting 14/26 from the field.
He didn’t receive enough support, though, with only Jason Cadee (11 points) and Matt Hodgson (10, nine rebounds) joining him in double-figures. Will Magnay had three exciting finishes at the rim for nine points.
The Bullets came flying out of the blocks and after good work inside from EJ Singler to win an offensive board, when he made two foul shots they were up 8-2 and Breakers coach Dan Shamir had to talk things over.
He brought Corey Webster in with instant results before Scott Hopson found Finn Delany for an alley-oop finish that ties scores up. It was then Lamar Patterson’s turn to spark the Bullets off the bench, but Brandon Ashley responded for the Breakers to help level scores at 17-17 by quarter-time.
Triples to Webster (two) and Ashley saw New Zealand take control during the second term and they led by as much as 10 courtesy of Delany’s impressive opening half.
But Brisbane hug tough and with Patterson unstoppable, they worked back into it and Taylor Braun’s only three points of the half came just before the buzzer to tie scores up at 47-47.
It was then time for the captain to put the Breakers on his back with Tom Abercrombie answering the call for leadership by delivering 10 points in the third quarter on his own to help his team to a five-point lead heading into the fourth.
Two quick threes brought Brisbane right back into it from Patterson as he soared past 30 points, but the Breakers answered with impressive finishes from Ashley and Hopson, before Ashley fouled out having played just 15 minutes following a contentious foul call.
Braun then had a purple patch with five quick Brisbane points to make it a four-point game with five to play. But they would get no closer and the Breakers found some confident on their home floor on the back some sparkling play from the returning Hopson to win by 11.
The Breakers will be glad to have until Sunday to remain at home to recharge and get ready for the Adelaide 36ers to arrive while the Bullets travel to Perth to take on the Wildcats on Saturday.
NBL ROUND 10
NEW ZEALAND BREAKERS 96 (Webster 23, Abercrombie 19, Delany 14, Hopson 14)
BRISBANE BULLETS 85 (Patterson 36, Cadee 11, Hodgson 10)