Wellington, we have a basketball team.
The Pero Cameron-coached Saints have had an inconsistent season but were consistently outstanding in blitzing the league-leading Harbour Heat 126-90 in Wellington last night.
The Saints hadn't lost on home court for two years and in the end easily preserved that proud record with a complete team performance in front of a big crowd at the TSB Bank Arena.
It was a high octane offensive display from the Saints, shooting a freakish 66 per cent from the floor.
The exciting backcourt of Eric Devendorf (38 points) and Lindsay Tait (21) were again the scoring stars but this was a true team effort with five players breaking double digits.
Former Syracuse University star Devendorf was lights out – hitting an incredible seven from eight threes and 15 from 20 overall – and as good as they are the Waikato Pistons may live to regret releasing him.
It was clear the Saints (6-3) needed the win more than Harbour (8-2) who have now lost two straight.
Harbour won the previous meeting on the North Shore by 20 points but there was never going to be a repeat last night.
It was high quality stuff from tip-off, with Devendorf pouring in 24 first-half points and Harbour centre Rick Rickert 17. The spectacle was several notches up from anything seen at TSB this season as the two competition heavyweights went shot for shot, the Saints holding a 59-53 halftime lead.
But Harbour then choked on their oranges as the Saints opened up a 19-point gap midway through the third quarter and things got testy when Devendorf and Kavossy Franklin had a disagreement.
Harbour dropped their heads as the Saints marched on and hustling Saints forward Erron Maxey (20) put an exclamation mark on the win with a spectacular one-handed dunk in the fourth quarter.
Rickert had just six second-half points, while the Saints also did a good job keeping Harbour's major long-range threat, Corey Webster quiet, the Breakers guard held to 15 points.
The Saints' next game is away to the lowly Otago Nuggets next Friday and they back up the following night against the Southland Sharks. Harbour play the Christchurch Cougars tonight in the second leg of their road trip.
Wellington Saints 126 (Eric Devendorf 38, Lindsay Tait 21, Erron Maxey 20) Harbour Heat 90 (Rick Rickert 23, BJ Anthony 20, Kavossy Franklin 17) 1Q: 31-28, 2Q: 28-25, 3Q: 30-21, 4Q: 37-16.
- The Dominion Post
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