Nuggets grab first win in almost a month against Jets

Otago Nuggets forward Kimani Lawrence skips past lunging Wellington Saints defender Malik Benlevi...
Otago Nuggets forward Kimani Lawrence skips past lunging Wellington Saints defender Malik Benlevi during a National Basketball League game at the Edgar Centre in April. PHOTO: BLAKE ARMSTRONG
Kimani Lawrence ploughed into the paint and powered the Otago Nuggets to a 99-88 win against the Manawatū Jets in Palmerston North tonight.

The 11-point win snapped a five-game losing streak for the Nuggets and keeps them within reach of the playoff spots.

Lawrence did most of the heavy lifting. He muscled in 27 points.

The 26-year-old American set up camp in the paint and he is just so hard to stop in the shadow of the hoop.

He pulled down five offensive rebounds as well and nabbed a couple of steals.

Fellow American Zaccheus Darko-Kelly had one of his better games for the team. He banged in three triples in his 19-point haul. He snuck in nine rebounds as well.

Ben Henshall and Dontae Russo-Nance chipped in with 17 points apiece.

Mustapha Heron (26 points), James Moors (16 points, 10 rebounds) led the charge for the home team.

The win will come as a relief for the Nuggets. But they will need to string some wins together to make the top six.

The opening minutes of the game were uninspiring.

They are two teams in a slump and it showed.

But Lawrence got some traction inside like he does, and Henshall hit a long three.

Darko-Kelly poked in a triple as well.

Liam Judd responded with a three and Moors got inside for an easy lay-up. The defence got caught out there.

Lawrence bulldozed his way to the hoop again but got fouled and missed both like he does. Henshall made good when he got to the stripe, though.

The Nuggets nursed a 21-18 lead at the first break but went to sleep on their defensive assignments and watched the lead evaporate.

Lachlan Crate made a baseline drive and finished with a dunk.

Moors rolled in a hook shot over Robbie Coman and drew the foul.

Heron sunk a floater over Coman and drew the foul.

Those three-point play opportunities kept coming.

The lead swung back and forth but the Nuggets landed some shots from deep.

Darko-Kelly snatched a shot out of air, ran the length of the court and finished with a lay-up.

But Judd connected with two late threes to trim the gap back to three at halftime.

Lawrence boxed his way back into the paint for some more points.

His tally was climbing but Heron was moving through the gears as well.

But turnovers were proving costly for the Jets. Henshall made a tough finish from another Jets mistake to keep his side in front 69-65 with 10 minutes to go.

Russo-Nance drained a three from the corner in the ideal start to the final period for the Nuggets. Darcy Knox hit a three as well.

And as always, Lawrence was hovering in the key and snaked his way to the hoop.

He smashed down a dunk moments later. There was no stopping the power forward and he dragged the Nuggets through to their first win in almost a month.

In the Rapid League game the Jets won 36-27.

The scores

Otago Nuggets 99 (Kimani Lawrence 27, Zaccheus Darko-Kelly 19)

Manawatū Jets 88 (Mustapha Heron 26, James Moors 16)

Quarter scores: 21-18, 48-45, 69-65