Two wins put Nuggets into second

All of a sudden, last week seems a long time ago.

Two wins, one dominant, and a jump into second place in the NBL for the Otago Nuggets in Auckland.

Its 130-94 victory over the Manawatu Jets on Saturday was one of the most dominant in franchise history.

Yesterday's 87-79 over the Nelson Giants was harder work.

But it was a game in which the Nuggets remained in control and closed out well.

More significantly, both came after three losses in four games, the most recent being one in which the Nuggets' offence could not get going.

Saturday, in particular, could not have been more contrasting.

The shots fell from everywhere. More notably, the offence was fluid and the ball moved.

But it was the defensive performance that pleased coach Brent Matehaere the most.

"Obviously we really filled up the stat sheet [Saturday] night," he said.

"It was always going to be tough to back up a performance like that.

‘But I think what we did really well was keep a team under 80 points; that's got to be a key for us week in, week out.

"If we have a great game, things go our way, we can win games a bit ugly which is what I felt like what happened tonight."

He said it had been important the team did not go into last night's game expecting the momentum to just continue from the night before. It did that and, while he felt the defence was shaky to start, it stepped that up.

A huge second half allowed the Nuggets to pull away on Saturday.

After leading by one at halftime, they scored 38 and 35 points in the last two quarters to win the second half 73-38.

Only four times in their history have the Nuggets scored more points in a game.

Three of those came during the 12-minute-quarter era in the 1990s, while their 145 points against the Jets in 2013 came via a quadruple overtime thriller. The 36-point winning margin also rated as the fourth-biggest in franchise history — a 56-point win over Waikato in 1996 the biggest.

The offence, which had struggled in recent games, operated well. The energy levels were much higher too, the Nuggets pushing in transition and hustling after rebounds and on defence.

Kane Keil led the way with 29 points — including six of 10 from deep — but it was the all-round effort. Jordan Ngatai and Jordan Hunt also scored well, putting in 23 and 22 points each.

At the other end, it ensured no-one on the Jets side passed 20 points.

Last night's win was harder fought.

The Giants stayed in touch, but the Nuggets held a narrow lead the whole way and remained in control — even without Ngatai and Jarrod Kenny for long periods.

Hunt was outstanding, showing his ability to use the backboard from tough angles down low, while also shooting from outside. He also rebounded well to finish with 26 points and 12 boards.

Ngatai was equally key, scoring in bunches but often finding ways to get points when the side was having a dry spell.

Defensively, the side locked in well too, notably containing Mike Karena to 15 points.

The side plays again tomorrow night against the Taranaki Mountainairs.

In other games, the Jets bounced back to beat the Auckland Huskies 105-100, while the Mountainairs beat the Canterbury Rams 97-92.


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