Basketball: Kings snap Breakers' winning streak

Dean Vickerman
Dean Vickerman
Dean Vickerman said during the week his side's season-long goal remained unchanged - to be the best defensive team in the Australian NBL.

That aim suffered a substantial setback against Sydney tonight as the league-leaders had a five-game winning streak snapped in ignominious fashion with a 81-101 loss to the Kings.

The Breakers (17-5) were blown out by a Kings side (9-12) scrapping for their playoff lives, with the two teams' respective comfort levels surrounding the postseason reflected on the Vector Arena floor.

The home side - all but guaranteed a place in the finals - played without energy for much of the game, being out-rebounded and out-hustled in the effort areas while also showing a seriously soft side on defence.

And the Kings - fighting for the fourth and final spot - took advantage of their opponents' deficiencies with a performance that was fast-paced without being rushed, composed without appearing relaxed.

A horror second quarter set the tone for the Breakers, with their meagre output of 15 points doubled by Sydney. And, with some suspect refereeing plaguing the second half, there were no signs revival, leaving the Kiwi club searching for solutions ahead of Thursday's crunch clash with Perth.

It wasn't all bad - four of the Breakers' five starters, along with Tai Wesley off the bench, reached double figures, while Cedric Jackson led by his with 21 points, coming a week after his triple-double against Melbourne.

But the American guard was outshone by compatriot Josh Childress, who scored 26 points on 56 per cent shooting and perhaps edged further ahead of Jackson in the most valuable player stakes.

The pair certainly didn't disappoint fans who came along for the twin-billing, taking command from the opening tip and combining for 18 points in the first quarter.

Childress had 10, equally effective when driving to the hoop and when shooting from outside, while Jackson grabbed eight including a buzzer-beater that gave the Breakers' a one-point lead at the first break.

But Sydney started hot in the second, sneaking in front on the back of a 6-0 run, and before long the Breakers found themselves behind by double digits. Little was going right for the home side as they committed turnovers, were whistled for a disproportionate number of fouls and lacked any intensity on the defensive end.

Worst of all was the rebounding - an area ibn which the Breakers usually pride themselves but one in which the Kings held a 22-8 advantage as they claimed a 14-point halftime lead.

The Breakers came out with more energy and urgency to begin the third but, with their defence still springing leaks, it took much of the third to reduce the deficit to single figures. But even that proved a false dawn as the Breakers were unable to find stops with any consistency, heading to the final period behind by 17.

The hosts did get within 12 in the fourth but, with Sydney continuing to pour in the points, the comfortable margin of victory was probably a fair reflection of an ugly performance.

Breakers 81 (Jackson 21, Webster 13, Abercrombie 11) Kings 101 (Childress 28, Garlepp 16, Cadee 13) HT: 40-54


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