Kings defeat Bullets, snap NBL losing run

Fraser Barton |

The Sydney Kings have put an end to their four-game NBL slide with a dominant 97-73 win at home over the Brisbane Bullets.

Meeting for the second time in three days, the Kings (4-6) got out to an early 16-9 lead, playing high pace, up tempo transition basketball that didn’t allow the Bullets into their defensive schemes.

Finishing the first quarter with a 28-16 lead, the Kings limited the Bullets (4-4) to one field goal in the first four minutes of the second, before taking a 21-point lead into halftime.

Brisbane’s 32 points at the break were their lowest of the season and in contrast, the Kings’ 52 was their highest total in any half of the NBL this year.

Dejan Vasiljevic then caught fire for the hosts from the deep, torching the Bullets from beyond the arc to balloon the Kings’ lead out to 28 points at the end of the third quarter.

The Kings buried their recent fourth-quarter hoodoo to put the result beyond doubt.

Vasiljevic led all scorers with 23 points and 5-11 from three-point territory while Xavier Cooks’ impact was enormous after being ejected early in their previous outing on Friday night.

Cooks had 13 points, 12 rebounds and five blocks, combining with fellow big man Jarell Martin who ended with 19 points to go with 12 boards and four assists.

The win ends the Kings’ worst losing streak since 2017 while handing Bullets star Nathan Sobey a loss in his milestone 200th career game.

“Good bounce back, tough game the other night – Brisbane were absolutely terrific in the second half and we didn’t have the answers but you know, we came out and we did what we did through three quarters the other night for the entirety of the game,” head coach Chase Buford said.

“Pace was good, defence was really, really good. I thought DJ (Vasiljevic) stepped up made a bunch of plays, made some great shots, great passes to the roller. 

“We just stayed at them and we didn’t give a let-up and kept it on for 40 minutes.”

In worrying signs for the Bullets, they lost big man Tyrell Harrison early to a suspected shoulder injury but coach James Duncan said they were uncertain on the seriousness.

“Obviously a huge missing piece for us for what Ty does and staying on the glass and changing shots and just his presence on the floor,” he said.

“So of course that that was a huge loss but at the same time there’s, you know, 11 or 12 other guys on the team that should be ready to step up and take those minutes and perform.