Waikato Pistons' big three shine as Giants caned
The big three of Akeem Wright, Corin Henry and Casey Frank combined to lead the Waikato Pistons to a 88-69 victory over the Nelson Giants yesterday.
That trio came close to outscoring the visitors on their own at Hamilton Boys' High School with a combined 67 points.
Jamal Boykin had 18 points and seven rebounds for the visitors, while Josh Pace had 17 points.
Waikato looked a different team from the one which lost to the Southland Sharks on Thursday, moving the ball well on offence and not forcing early shots.
Shooters were getting open looks and more importantly knocking them down, making 32 of 58 as a team during the game.
Casey Frank was strong on the inside for the Pistons early, while Akeem Wright came up big at the defensive end in his duel with Josh Pace.
Wright had two steals in the first quarter to go with a block, leading to easy points in transition.
The visitors got frustrated with the decision-making from the referees, as captain Phill Jones told them to ''wake-up'' at the end of the first quarter.
The calls didn't change after the break, and got Jones in more strife midway through the second.
His back chat led to a technical foul being called against him, with Corin Henry making both technical free throws to extend the Pistons lead to 35-19.
From there it was the Giants who woke up, with Pace making tough shots over strong defence from Wright.
Pace went into halftime with 15 points on 6-13 shooting, while Henry had 10 for the Pistons as the Giants reduced the deficit to eight.
After the break the tension ramped up on the Giants bench as calls continued to go against their team.
Coach Liam Flynn was called for a technical foul midway through the quarter after having a word to a referee, allowing Henry to extend the home lead to 19 at the free throw line.
Frank and Henry had already added to the Pistons lead with consecutive threes, while Wright continued to be valuable at both ends of the court.
His work on Pace in defence was proving difficult, as he teamed with Jamal Boykin to pull the Giants back within 10 near the end of the third.
Wright made a clutch mid-range jumper as the quarter ended to give momentum back to the hosts heading into the fourth, for the final quarter and taking his tally to 18 points.
Frank, Henry and Wright were creating huge problems for the Giants on both ends of the floor, while the Giants were relying on Boykin and Pace on offence.
The Giants didn't do enough offensively to break down the compact defence of the Pistons, which saw the hosts build on their lead early in the fourth.
Wright grabbed his third steal of the afternoon jumping into a passing lane and dishing to Zac Carter for a 19 point lead with less than a minute you play.
Henry finished with 28 points, nine assists and six boards for the hosts, while Wright had 22 points, seven assists, seven board and three steals.
Frank added 17 points on 6-7 shooting, including two of two from deep, and had eight boards for the Pistons.