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Imperious Kings rule, Jackies swarm: NBL

SOUTH East Melbourne was smashed and humiliated by defending NBL champion Sydney, the Kings keeping alive their threepeat dream with DJ Hogg finding his shot, while Perth minus Bryce Cotton gave Tasmania something of a game before succumbing to another JackJumper swarm.

Playing without any of their imports, the Phoenix still were expected to show the spunk of recent times which included twin wins over the Kings.

Opening with a thundering Gorjok Gak slam dunk, then a second one, South East fans were loving life. Matt Kenyon's 3-pointer gave the Phoenix a 7-3 lead and at this point, no-one realised now would be the optimum time to photograph the scoreboard.

Threes by Denzel Valentine and Jaylen Adams pushed Sydney ahead - Jonah Bolden's triple opened the Kings' scoring - and when Jaylin Galloway and DJ Hogg entered the game, Sydney's scoring started to significantly tick.

Any plan the Phoenix may have entertained about holding onto the ball, running the shot-clock to 20 seconds or so, forcing the Kings to play D and cut down on how long Sydney could possess the ball, went out the window in a flurry of bad and early shots.

Mitch Creek and Ben  Ayre last had South East within touch at 12-15 halfway through the period. What followed was a Kings' avalanche which totally buried and destroyed South East.  

Alex Toohey's layup ignited a 17-0 Sydney sequence for a 20-point lead and this was over.

South East showed some stomach for the fight in the second quarter but down 39-63 at halftime, all that was to follow was the Kings' rejuvenating and saving their season in the most emphatic manner of any club this season.

To compete in the play-in/playoffs, this was a "must win" and the players seized their moment to make a statement.

The Kings' threepeat bid is not yet dead, Hogg finishing with a season-best 25 points on 8-of-11 shooting, 3-of-4 threes, 6-of-6 from the stripe.

Sydney's 55-point massacre was beyond embarrassing, the Kings collectively smashing it on the boards 52-34 and shooting at 60 percent to 32.  

SYDNEY KINGS 122 (Hogg 25, Adams 24, Galloway, Valentine 17, Toohey 16, Bolden 10; Valentine 8 rebs; Adams 9 assts) d SOUTH EAST MELBOURNE PHOENIX 67 (Foxwell 16, Creek 13, Rapp 7; Stattman 5 rebs; Rosendale, Ayre 3 assts) at John Cain Arena. Crowd: 8,279

ONCE it was common knowledge Bryce Cotton would not be competing, the only thing standing between Tasmania and a strong home showing was complacency.

And with the match having special teal significance for the JackJumpers and already 0-2 to the Wildcats this season, complacency never was going to be an issue for Scott Roth's troops.

Leaving Wollongong with his left arm in a sling, Kristian Doolittle made a sufficient recovery to start in Hobart, and Alexandre Sarr contributed 17 points at 63 percent.

But truly, no-one could replace Cotton's missing scoring, leadership and sheer on-court presence. 

An even first quarter closed with Tai Webster (15 points on 7-of-9 shooting) tying it at 22-22.

Keanu Pinder's dunk gave Perth a 28-26 lead, inciting the best from Tasmaia. Will Magnay (13 points, eight rebounds, five blocks) tied it back up, Milton Doyle (24 points, 5 threes, five rebounds, five assists) put the JackJumpers ahead, Jack McVeigh (20 points, 10 rebounds) bumped the lead out further. Suddenly, a 10-0 run had the JJs sitting pretty at 36-28.

Another McVeigh basket, which he followed with a 3-pointer saw the lead ballooning, Clint Steindl's three making it 44-30.

Steindl's next three helped Tassie to a match-winning 25-10 period, Perth left staring at a bleak second half of chasey.

Magnay blocking shots, Tasmania patiently moving the ball to find the best option and everyone committed defensively made the contrast to Perth's one-on-five activities very stark.

No Cotton = No Perth. Meanwhile livewire Ants guard Jordon Crawford went 0-of-7 in 24 minutes, again the contrast in relying on one champion or a system very stark.  

TASMANIA JACKJUMPERS 86 (Doyle 24, McVeigh 20, Magnay 13; McVeigh 10 rebs; Doyle 5 assts) d PERTH WILDCATS 72 (Sarr 17, T.Webster 15, Pinder 10; Doolittle 5 rebs; Henshall, Usher 3 assts) at MyState Bank Arena. Crowd: 4,340

Feb 18

Content, unless otherwise indicated, is © copyright Boti Nagy.