Wilkinson's 33 not enough as NZ Breakers fall
Gary Wilkinson played his part, but his Breakers team-mates could not quite back up their fiery import in Sydney on Saturday night.
Another big-time offensive performance from import big man Wilkinson failed to produce the desired result as the Breakers dropped a crucial one to the Sydney Kings, 98-96, to put a serious dent in their playoff hopes.
Wilkinson, as he tends to do against the Kings who once made the mistake of electing not to sign him, went off for a game-high 33 points to give the Breakers every chance of a third straight victory over a Sydney side the New Zealand club are looking to haul in.
But Wilkinson’s masterful display – he was 12-of-19 from the floor and five of seven from deep, to go with seven boards and two blocks – was wasted as the Kings managed to eke out the victory in a tight finish.
The victory has major ramifications for the playoff picture, with the Kings going to 10-9 in fourth spot, and the Breakers dropping to 8-12, with a mountain to climb to catch the Kings for that final post-season spot.
Import point guard Kerron Johnson had another strong outing for the Breakers, with 18 points (8/14 FG) and 10 assists, while Tom Abercrombie (12 points) and Daryl Corletto (10) were the other chief contributors at the offensive end.
The Kings were paced by 22 points from outstanding import Sam Young and a heady 20 from the classy Ben Madgen, while Tom Garlepp’s 18 points included several crucial hoops down the stretch.
The contest had been a tight one pretty much throughout, the Kings leading by five at the end of the first term, by three at the major break and the visitors hitting the front by a single point heading into the final quarter.
Wilkinson had looked like he had broken the game open in the third quarter when he stroked four straight three-pointers to go on a stunning scoring rampage to help the Breakers grow a deficit into a nine-point lead with a couple of minutes remaining.
But with Wilkinson’s emotions threatening to boil over, an 8-0 Kings run over the last couple of minutes saw the Breakers take just a one-point lead into the final break, at 77-76.
From there it was pretty much bucket for bucket to the finish, with Johnson’s late jumper to take the lead drawing nothing but air, and the Kings able to hang on for the victory.
Sydney Kings 98 (Sam Young 22, Ben Madgen 20, Tom Garlepp 18, Charles Carmouche 13, AJ Ogilvy 11) NZ Breakers 96 (Gary Wilkinson 33, Kerron Johnson 18, Tom Abercrombie 12, Daryl Corletto 10). 1Q: 26-21; HT: 53-50; 3Q: 76-77