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That was a tough night.
A niggly Auckland Huskies team had too much for the Otago Nuggets in the NBL Showdown in Auckland last night.
They kept the Nuggets quiet to take a 81-69 win in a game where the Nuggets offence never got going.
Turnovers plagued the Nuggets in a physical game and their eight from 39 from the three-point line was always going to make winning tough. They also did not finish well around the hoop.
Jordan Ngatai led the team in scoring with 19 points, but struggled to do so efficiently, shooting 5/22 from the field.
Elsewhere scoring was equally hard to come by, Jordan Hunt's 12 points the next most from a Nugget.
The Nuggets’ offence was stagnant at times, and at others it simply could not finish on good looks.
The Huskies, on the other hand, got production from a range of threats.
Tall Black Tohi Smith-Milner had his best game of the season with 17 points and 10 rebounds, while schoolboy Taine Murray added 19 points and showed his threat from deep.
Several times the Nuggets went on mini-runs to prevent the Huskies pulling away. However, there were never able to quite put together a genuine comeback, and
after halftime they never got back to a position to challenge for the lead.
It was a fast start as both teams scored freely early. The Huskies took an 18-16 lead after five minutes, before the scoring dried up.
Turnovers began to creep into the Nuggets' game and they struggled to create good shots.
The two stars — Ngatai and Jarrod Kenny — finished the game with 13 of those turnovers between them.
That came as a by-product of a niggly Huskies defence, as the referees took a looser approach to calling the game.
The Nuggets trailed 23-18 at the end of the first quarter, but back-to-back threes to Josh Aitcheson and Richie Rodger helped it even the score.
However, the Huskies hit back with three threes of their own, opening a double-digit lead.
However, the Nuggets finished the quarter well. They went to halftime trailing 44-38 following a Darcy Knox lay up.
The Huskies reopened that gap straight away, the Nuggets shots not falling and the Huskies making theirs.
Murray became prominent through that quarter and his ability from deep hurt the Nuggets.
However, a Rodger three-pointer and steal — which led to a Ngatai three-point play — brought it back to 58-51.
But another Huskies run followed and early in the fourth quarter the Nuggets called a time-out at 67-51.
Again the Nuggets made another run, but again the Huskies held them off.
The loss leaves the Nuggets with three wins from six games — tied with four other teams in third place.
The Huskies, who now have the majority of their team back, lifted to two wins.
In the late game, the Taranaki Mountain Airs beat the Franklin Bulls 102-88.