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Kings respond with NBL win over Phoenix

The Sydney Kings have staved off a late surge by the South East Melbourne Phoenix to seal their second victory of the NBL season, winning 84-73.

After suffering their worst loss in franchise history on Thursday, the Kings came out firing on all cylinders at Qudos Bank Arena with their early superior three-point shooting and dominant points in the paint the difference on Saturday night.

Kings coach Chase Buford said he was proud of his team’s effort after their record drubbing just 48 hours prior.

“It was encouraging and good to see the fight from our guys tonight,” he said.

“We came out, we played with a ton of heart, we guarded our butts off. I thought every run they made we had an answer for it.

“Their (Melbourne United) pressure the other night, intimidated us and punked us a little bit and we weren’t gonna have that tonight. We really got to the rim and I was proud of it.”

Xavier Cooks led the way for the home side recording a season-high 19 points to go with 10 rebounds and two assists, while shooting a solid 50 per cent from the field from his 18 attempts.

The big man proved a difficult matchup for star Chinese import Zhou Qi, who despite early foul trouble, managed 17 points, 13 boards and five blocks for the Phoenix.

But it was success from beyond the arc that laid the platform for Sydney (2-2), who raced out to a 29-14 opening-quarter lead as Angus Glover (3-of-3) started hot from beyond the arc.

That lead extended as high as 19 early in the fourth quarter before a late surge led by Mitch Creek brought the deficit to just nine.

Creek led the way with 22 points as he willed his side back into the contest, scoring 13 of their 24 last-quarter points, but the Kings held on to consign their opponents to their first defeat of the season.

South East Melbourne (3-1) eventually finished a dismal 8-of-31 from three-point land.

“It felt like we had no space and no pace and you know, we were trying to throw different looks at different guys and it just didn’t feel like it clicked tonight,” Creek said.

“Defensively it wasn’t there and offensively you know, we weren’t at the level that Sydney were tonight and and full credit to them.”

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