The Sydney Kings have bounced back from their first loss of the season with a comfortable 102-85 victory over Brisbane Bullets to move to the top of the NBL ladder.
Wayward shooting saw the Kings fall behind early in Sunday’s match-up at Nissan Arena but it didn’t take long for the defending champions to click into gear as they extended their league record with a 15th consecutive road victory.
Brisbane jumped out to an 11-point lead with Sydney missing 10 of their first 11 shots but the visitors stormed to the front with a dominant 31-19 second-quarter blitz and controlled the contest the rest of the way.
Former Illawarra Hawks import Justin Simon tallied a career-best 23 points for Sydney, Dejan Vasiljevic hit four three-pointers in his 16-point haul and Xavier Cooks showed off his versatility with eight points, nine rebounds and nine assists.
Coach Chase Buford was pleased to see his squad recover from a slow start and bounce back from Friday night’s home loss to Cairns Taipans.
“Obviously, against Cairns we got way too stagnated, playing one-on-one and tonight was an opportunity for us to share the ball and hit the pockets and let the rollers play,” Buford said after the Kings racked up 25 assists against the Bullets with just eight turnovers.
Brisbane held a 21-16 lead after the first quarter with DJ Mitchell and Jason Cadee contributing to the home side’s 15-4 start.
But a late triple from Vasiljevic proved to be a sign of things to come from Sydney.
A nice cameo from Biwali Bayles and hot shooting from Vasiljevic inspired the Kings’ 16-3 start to the second quarter but Brisbane managed to stem the flow, Cadee’s late steal and basket cutting Sydney’s lead to 47-40 at halftime.
The third quarter started promisingly for the home side with Tyler Johnson breaking through for his first points of the game and while both teams traded three-point bombs, it was the Kings continuing to increase their lead with Derrick Walton Jr directing traffic and centre Tim Soares providing quality minutes.
The Kings put the result beyond doubt with a 14-7 start to the final term extending their advantage to a game-high 22 points, leaving the Bullets winless after four games.
Brisbane coach James Duncan was left frustrated at his team’s inability to follow instructions and play with effort as they were made to pay by a high-powered Sydney Kings outfit.
“They are the defending champs for a reason and we did a poor, D-minus job of executing the game plan which is everybody getting on the glass and rebounding the freaking ball,” Duncan said.
“That’s just effort and desire and hitting people, and there was a stretch where we didn’t have it.”