Breakers' beat Kings in OT, streak still alive
The Breakers continue to set records for excellence as they prolong their dominance of the Australian National Basketball League.
Last night the New Zealand back-to-back champions ground out a knife-edge 96-94 overtime victory over the Sydney Kings to extend their club-best winning streak to 11 and their road record to a remarkable seven on the bounce, equalling their previous best mark for success across the Tasman.
It wasn't pretty by the Breakers as they returned to the scratchy offensive form that had been a feature of the first half of their winning streak. But a 22-5 edge on the offensive boards and a resultant 30 more shots than their opponents allowed the Kiwi club to prevail.
The Breakers shot just 40 percent from the floor (38/96 FG) to Sydney's 50 (33/66 FG) but won the rebounds 48-33 and edged the all-important second-chance points (12-6) and points off turnovers (15-5).
It was pretty heady stuff too as the Breakers shook off what looked to be a referee howler that allowed the Kings to force overtime, but then came up big in a tight extra period as Cedric Jackson's give-and-go with Mika Vukona decided the contest with just two seconds left.
The win improved the Breakers' league-best mark to 19-3 and dropped the fourth-placed Kings to 10-12 as they battle for a top-four spot.
It has to be said the Breakers looked decidedly hard done by to be taken to overtime after Kings import and top-scorer Darnell Lazare put back a missed Corin Henry free throw with just two seconds left that appeared to miss the rim.
But none of the three refs made the call and Lazarre's quick thinking knotted the scores at 82-82 after poor free-throw shooting down the stretch by the Breakers allowed the Kings back into the contest.
Jackson shook off a pretty lethargic first half to finish with a team-high 24 points (9/25 FG) to with 12 rebounds, seven assists and a pair of steals. He was huge down the stretch for the Breakers as he finally found his finish at the rim.
Big Alex Pledger also had a strong game for the Kiwis with 18 points (9/13 FG) and five boards, while Daryl Corletto, Vukona, Corey Webster and Tom Abercrombie completed a balanced scoring effort with double-figure contributions. Vukona added nine rebounds, seven of which came at the offensive end.
Kings import Lazare (25 points and 11 boards) and Corin Henry (22pts) led the way for the home team as they hung tough throughout a pretty even contest.
It was a less than auspicious opening couple of quarters from the Breakers as they settled back into one-game-a-week mode in rather muddling fashion.
The Kiwi back-to-back champs made just six of 22 first-quarter field goal attempts and were only marginally better in the second as they went nine-for-23 en route to a four-point (36-40) halftime deficit.
But the Breakers would have taken some heart from the fact they were so close after a half where leading scorers Jackson and Abercrombie went a combined four-of-18 from the floor with a half-dozen turnovers between them.
Still, one constant for the Breakers this season has been their defence, and when they kept the Kings under 20 for the second of three periods they were able to eke out a 63-59 advantage heading into the final stanza.
They looked like holding the edge to the end of regulation when they led by five inside the final two minutes but when Mika Vukona could go just two-of-four from the free-throw line the Kings were able to make enough big shots to force the extra period, if not the upset.
NZ Breakers 96 (Cedric Jackson 24, Alex Pledger 18, Daryl Corletto 12, Mika Vukona 11, Corey Webster 10, Tom Abercrombie 10),
Sydney Kings 94 (Darnell Lazare 25, Corin Henry 22, Ben Madgen 17, James Harvey 16) in OT. 1Q: 14-17; HT: 36-40; 3Q: 63-59; FT: 82-82.