The Sydney Kings have won 11 straight games in the NBL for the first time since 2006 with a grinding 84-77 victory over Adelaide on the road.
Xavier Cooks starred after getting into early foul trouble to lead the Kings’ offence with 22 points, nine rebounds and three blocks as his side kept the 36ers at arm’s length in the second half.
With a six-point buffer at the main break, the Kings limited Adelaide to just 12 third quarter points on 4/22 shooting as their lead grew to 13 going into the final term.
The 36ers got within six but that’s as close as they came as the Kings powered on to retain second spot on the ladder ahead of Illawarra who also won earlier on Saturday.
But it wasn’t all joy for Chase Buford’s side, with the coach disappointed how they closed out the contest.
“Not very proud of the way we finished the game,” Buford said.
“We didn’t treat it with enough respect or play the game the right way down the stretch, and just kind of lost our composure, lost our edge and obviously let them back in.
“If we are who we say we want to be, that’s not good enough.”
For the 36ers,Daniel Johnson was their go to in the opening half registering 17 points, with none coming better than a tough fadeway over Cooks in the paint.
But Sydney’s big men dominated the interior early, doubling their points in the paint in the first half and streaking out in transition for easy buckets.
The loss is Adelaide’s ninth of their past 11 games as they were made to pay for a poor shooting night hitting just nine of their 25 attempted three-point shots.
“The energy was was good, we we came out and we controlled the game,” 36ers coach CJ Bruton said.
“We needed to play with better pace and pick that up and play off the floor a little more, but in the end we weren’t successful.
But Bruton had high praise for Kings big man Cooks, who had their number all evening both offensively and defensively.
“Xavier – he’s a Swiss army knife that can really put a fork in you in different ways,” Bruton added.
“The way he plays and collects the ball and defensively, just active hands and pushing it in transition.
“Slowing him down is something we’ve got to figure out before for next time we play them and make sure we still keep everybody else in check.”