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Kings continue NBL hot streak v Taipans

The red-hot Sydney Kings have marched to their sixth successive NBL victory after overcoming a stiff early challenge to defeat the Cairns Taipans 98-88 at Qudos Bank Arena.

Co-captain Xavier Cooks (23 points, 12 rebounds, three blocks) was dynamic at both ends, while Jaylen Adams (21 points) continued his purple patch for the championship-contending Kings, who drew away from Cairns after halftime on Sunday.

Centre Jarelle Martin (18 points, 10 boards) was a consistent threat in the paint and former Golden State Warrior Ian Clark (15 points) got hold of the visitors late.

Sydney coach Chase Buford was pleased with the Kings’ offensive execution – but not so much their defensive efforts.

“That’s three games in a row where our defence hasn’t been to the standard that we hold ourselves to,” he said.

“We can be better defensively, we know that.

“With that being said I thought offensively we did a good job of attacking their pressure, playing behind their press and getting easy baskets in transition.”

Point guard Scott Machado (26 points, seven assists) and workhorse centre Stephen Zimmerman (16 points, 13 rebounds, five assists) led the charge for the injury-ridden, brave Taipans, who welcomed back forward Kouat Noi and playmaker Jarrod Kenny, but were without import Tahjere McCall (hand) and back-up swingman Mirko Djeric (quad).

Zimmerman’s lion-hearted rebounding and deft passing were crucial early as Cairns stood toe-to-toe with the heavily-favoured home side, levelling the scores 25-25 at quarter time.

Martin’s power-dunk was the highlight of a tight second term, which Cooks finished with an emphatic tip-jam on the buzzer to give Sydney a 47-44 halftime edge.

Cooks and Martin piloted a 15-7 run to begin the third stanza to stretch the Kings’ advantage into double figures.

Zimmerman went to work on the low block to start the fourth and helped slice the Taipans’ 12-point three-quarter time deficit to six points.

Sydney, as expected, responded.

Adams connected on a floater and buried his fifth three-pointer moments later, before sixth-man Clark got rolling to deny the plucky Snakes.

“I commend the guys for the way they competed, stayed in the contest and didn’t back down from a challenge,” Cairns coach Adam Forde said.

“They (Kings) went on a couple of runs, especially in that third quarter.

“There are a few areas we need to tidy up.”

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