Adnam spills party pies as Sixers get Christmas chocolates

    The Sixers led by 14 points with four minutes left to play at the Adelaide Entertainment Centre, but had to fight tooth and nail for a 94-88 win after a brave late rally by the Phoenix, who sliced the margin to four points with a minute to play.The result improved resurgent Adelaide’s win-loss record to 9-8, while the Phoenix, playing their fourth game in 10 days, dropped to 12-8.“I’m very happy for our players and our organisation,” Adelaide coach CJ Bruton said.“We had to fight for it … even though they were undermanned they gave it every crack.“I think we’re playing better and that momentum is coming.”“I see this as one that slipped away,” Phoenix coach Simon Mitchell said.“We came into the game with the true belief that we were the better team and we expected to win so we’re disappointed.”Johnson and Franks led the way with 20 points apiece, with seven of the import’s points coming in the last quarter.New Adelaide import Ian Clark suited up for the contest, but the NBA and NBL championship-winning guard didn’t leave the bench having only arrived in the country late in the week.Phoenix star Mitch Creek, the league’s leading scorer, was held to eight points in the first half but finished with a game-high 24 points, with Kyle Adnam the next best with 18.36ERS LOOK TO RIDE WAVE TOWARDS FINALSAdelaide’s season was in danger of suffering a disastrous wipeout during a frustrating first half of the NBL fixture, but with three home wins in a row CJ Bruton is planning to have his side riding the crest of a wave heading into finals.The resurgent 36ers (9-8) have shrugged off their previous struggles at the Adelaide Entertainment Centre, with their latest win a hard-fought six-point victory against undermanned South East Melbourne on Christmas Eve.The Sixers can make it four home wins on the trot on Thursday evening when they host a dysfunctional Brisbane outfit that took a five-game losing skid into Christmas.“I think we’re playing better and that momentum is coming,” Bruton said.“I’m not a surfer, but you see a surfer look at a good wave and want to go get on it … I feel like we’re paddling in and seeing that wave behind us.“I hope that with us being at home, with us coming together with our group now and having the roster finally done, that with the games that we have left we’ll be able to stand up and ride this wave all the way in.”Thursday night’s clash will be the fourth game in a crowded Christmas schedule that sees Adelaide play five games in the last 15 days of December.Bruton added the final piece of his roster puzzle with NBA veteran Ian Clark signed to replace Craig Randall II shortly before Christmas.The NBA and NBL championship-winning guard suited up and sat on the bench against the Phoenix, but the American didn’t see any court time having only arrived in the country late in the week.“He’s still trying to get on Australian time, which is difficult,” Bruton said.“But he got on the floor with the boys a bit (at training on Friday) and it was good.“I think the energy is high and everyone is excited to have him around and he’s excited to be here.“He fits in like he’s been here a while … I like what I see so far.“It’s not crystal clear (how I will utilise him) … there will be an adjustment period again for our players.”Anthony Drmic missed the clash against South East Melbourne through illness and will be monitored ahead of the encounter with Brisbane.ABSENT STARSThe Phoenix were missing Gary Browne (calf), Ryan Broekhoff (hip) and Alan Williams (ankle) through injury, while star centre Zhou Qi has returned to China for family reasons.That’s a lot of missing star power, but the absentees presented opportunities for more playing minutes and Adnam made the most of his with 11 points, including two triples, in the first quarter.The skipper’s high-energy approach was pivotal as the Phoenix poured in 32 points in the first term to lead by six points at the first break.Adnam scored the first points of the second term and forced Adelaide’s eighth turnover as the home side struggled to put it together on defence.Such was Adnam’s intent to fly around the court, he sent a tray of party pies flying after he barrelled into the crowd attempting to keep the ball in play.DJ SPARKSIn his second match back from a one-game absence with gastro, Johnson started on the bench with Kai Sotto getting the start at centre.Johnson provided the spark his side needed to shake off an all-too-familiar sloppy start at home.The star veteran poured in a team-high 13 points in the first half on 4-of-5 shooting to help his side rein in the visitors and edge in front by two points at the main break.The starting centre role is an intriguing situation for CJ Bruton to ponder, with Sotto showing encouraging signs as a starter.The Filipino sensation had five points and pulled down six rebounds in the first half, finishing with seven points and 10 rebounds.Antonius Cleveland (13 points) had 11 boards, the Sixers winning the rebound count 50-33.The Sixers are at home again on Thursday night when they host the Bullets, while the Phoenix are off to Hobart next for a New Year’s Day clash against the JackJumpers.

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