• 56th game of the season, the exact half way mark of #NBL19
• Sydney Kings win fifth in-a-row equalling their best winning streak since their return to the NBL in 2010/11 (Rounds 2-4, 2017)
• Cairns lose 12th straight game and remain winless at home (0/7)
• Taipans posted their lowest score of the season – 70 points
• Taipans guard Kuany Kuany equalled his career high with 10 points
• Nate Jawai scored seven points to reach 1000 in his career for the Taipans
• Jerome Randle top-scored for the Kings with 22-points – the seventh time he has led Sydney in scoring this season
The Sydney Kings have continued piling on the pain, consigning the Cairns Taipans to their 12th straight defeat while bumping their league-best win streak to five winning 81-70 at the Cairns Convention Centre on Thursday.
Cairns may be small fry at this point in the season, but the league’s most in-form team is showing its ability to win in any type of contest. Even more importantly, they are controlling the pace of their recent games.
It isn’t all peaches and cream for Andrew Gaze’s men, playing sloppy and giving away a 13-4 run late in the piece to give the Snakes a sniff that they almost capitalised on.
What makes this team so scary, and the current championship favourites, is their ability to win in the half-court. Thursday was a clinic in how to win slow, and it would have been a joy to Gaze – a man who, in his third year as a coach, is looking a lot more confident in his craft.
Jerome Randle top-scored for the visitors with 22 points, while Daniel Kickert stepped up with his best game of the season despite giving up Hungry Jacks cheeseburgers in the final minute of the game, to post 13 points and eight rebounds.
Andrew Bogut was brilliant with a stat-sheet-stuffing 10 points, 13 rebounds and six assists.
Melo Trimble’s 14 was the team-high for Cairns, but the real high point came from the first half play of youngster Kuany Kuany, who finished with an equal career-high 10 points.
The pork chop saga rolled into Round 10, with Taipans mascot Joe Blake running out a ‘Bogut and pork chop side-by-side comparison’ poster that caught the big man’s attention and forced a chuckle in the first quarter.
Kuany stole the first quarter headlines with six quick points at the end of the quarter – momentum that carried into the second half as the Snakes’ spark plug put his head down to earn eight foul shot attempts in his first four minutes of court time.
On the back of the 24-year-old’s ultra-energetic first-quarter burst, Cairns went into quarter-time up 20-15.
The second quarter was time for the Kings to hit the gas, however.
Back-to-back Kickert bombs levelled things up early in the second, and another Randle bomb brought them into the lead.
It was simply Kings v Kuany for a while, and five-on-one isn’t a good formula, especially when the one checks out of the game.
Newbill plugged the sinking ship with three straight jumpers soon after and the Snakes had pegged the margin from the brink of collapse to just three points.
But the competition’s form team hit back immediately to close the half. Right out of the Gaze timeout, the visitors ran a beautiful Newley back-cut play off a Bogut bounce pass; part of a 9-2 run that put the visitors up 45-34 at the main break.
Carnage loomed out of the sheds as Randle and Bogut linked up for an alley-oop slam while Walker air balled and bricked successive threes, but the hosts stuck to the task to rattle off nine straight points and get back within six.
Rob Loe front-rimmed a wide-open three trailing the break amid a Kings fourth quarter collapse, and in a nutshell that was the story of the Snakes’ season.
Bogut and Brian Bowen linked up for two flashy final-quarter alley-oops to ice the cake.
Despite the fourth-quarter run, Cairns still has not won a single fourth quarter at home all season.
NBL ROUND 10
SYDNEY KINGS 81 (Randle 22, Kickert 13, Newley 12)
CAIRNS TAIPANS 70 (Trimble 14, Walker 10, Kuany 10)