Andrew Bogut still has gas in the tank, Daniel Kickert is still a force and the Sydney Kings are back at the top of the ladder after an 87-81 win in Brisbane on Friday night.
Those who questioned a ‘tired’ Sydney’s ability to match it with the best have been caught crying wolf as the Kings took care of business beating the Bullets by six points at Brisbane Entertainment Centre.
Bogut was the best player on the court, but not even he could register a single offensive rebound as the Kings pulled off one of the quirkiest statistics the NBL has ever seen on the way to the victory.
Friday night was the first time a team has ever won an NBL game without a player being credited with an offensive rebound (they were given three as a team).
Back-to-back embarrassing losses appeared to spark the Kings on the defensive side of the ball, holding the league’s most efficient offence to just 81 points and 35 in the second half.
Bogut led the team with 20 points, seven rebounds, four assists and his standard three blocks, Kickert went a perfect 6/6 shooting for his 17 points, while Jerome Randle stuffed the box score with 15 points, six rebounds and seven assists.
Brisbane was led by Cameron Bairstow’s hard-fought 23 points and 10 rebounds – his first double-figure rebounding effort of the season – and Lamar Patterson’s steady 21.
Blood, sweat and stitches went into a high-scoring first half as Matt Hodgson caught a stray Kickert elbow late in the first quarter that left the Bullets centre requiring an urgent patch-up job.
He returned early in the second term, but the story was fellow big man Bairstow going to town on power forward matchup David Wear out of the blocks.
Bairstow scored 13 his side’s first 14 points before Patterson took the reins in the second.
The home side’s two-man show (34 combined points by half-time) was good enough to keep pace with a balanced Kings effort (six players with five or more), trailing by just a single point at the main break.
Both sides found themselves in a mire after half-time until Kevin Lisch launched from downtown, then soon after found Kickert wide open trailing the break to go up six and force the hand of Bullets coach Andrej Lemanis.
Reuben Te Rangi answered the call right after the timeout, splashing his fourth triple in as many attempts to set up a thrilling finish with the visitors leading 69-65.
Randle put his body on the line trying to stop a Bairstow drive and wore an arm to the jaw for his trouble, surrendering a foul to add insult to injury.
While the hardy import got up, rubbed his jaw and kept playing, very little was required from the former league MVP as big men Kickert and Bogut put Brisbane to the sword.
Kickert went to 17 points on crafty veteran moves and before the packed Boondall crowd could blink, his Kings had the league’s highest scoring team slain.
NBL ROUND 15
SYDNEY KINGS 87 (Bogut 20, Kickert 17, Randle 15)
BRISBANE BULLETS 81 (Bairstow 23, Patterson 21, Te Rangi 15)