Kings bounce back to defeat leaders United
Written by Charlotte Austin
The Sydney Kings' title defence isn't over just yet, with the two-time defending champions bouncing back to form on Sunday - defeating league-leaders Melbourne United 98-86.
The round 17 victory, played in front of 12,921 fans, moves the harbour city side back into fourth, with just three rounds remaining before the post-season.
United started the first quarter up by four, helped by fouls and three from Chris Goulding. Contributions from Denzel Valentine, Jaylen Adams and Jordi Hunter put the Kings ahead. The rivals tugged the lead between each other before Jonah Bolden put Sydney back up by four. Kyle Bowen evened the score, with traded baskets between Flynn Cameron and Hunter keeping it tied. Fouls in the purple and gold's favour saw them up by one, shut down by a four-point play, United up by four after the first (26-22).
Glover and Adams worked quickly to put the tie back up early into the second. Baskets between Jo Lual-Acuil Jr and Adams kept the score, with threes from Luke Travers and Bolden doing the same. Three for Valentine put the Kings up, going unmatched by United. Adams and Glover kept the Kings on the throne and built a seven-point lead. A big Adams-Bolden link up, and an explosive dunk from Alex Toohey ensured the Kings stayed on top, with three from Shaun Bruce pushing them into the doubles. Fouls marked the end of the second, Sydney up by 15 into half-time (58-43).
Melbourne started their fight early, Goulding and Travers putting up four to keep United in the game. Lual-Acuil Jr brought it to a 10-point game before Shea Ili pushed the Kings' advantage into the singles. Valentine clutched up with two, breaking Melbourne's (6-0) run. Makuach Maluach put up three, shut down by Ili and Tanner Krebs. Five quick ones from Maluach kept Melbourne at bay before contributions from Ian Clark and Kreb matched him. Last-minute jump shots from Adams and Maluach kept Sydney up by seven into the final 10 (72-65).
A quick rebound from Hunter opened up the fourth, followed by Bruce to put Sydney up by 12 before Clark came with two. Valentine and Bruce ensured Sydney remained comfortable following fouls in Melbourne's favour. Three from Goulding broke the doubles. Maluach came through, followed by a dunk from Glover and Hunter to put the Kings up by 13. Matthew Dellavedova and Travers put up a late fight for Melbourne, their efforts unrewarded, as three for Glover saw Sydney walking away with a pivotal 12-point win against the ladder leaders. (98-86).
Where the match was decided
The Kings took home the win, helped by statistical advantages in field goal percentage (50-40), rebounds (44-39), assists (21-16) and points from turnovers (16-12).
Sydney's 36-17 second period, which saw them easily evaporate their first-quarter deficit, laid the platform for the 12th win of the season.
Player of the game
Makuach Maluach proved vital in the Kings' win over Melbourne, bringing in 18 points, four rebounds and one block.
Adams also chipped in with 16 points, three rebounds and three dimes, while Valentine (15), Bruce (12), Hunter (12), Glover (10) and Bolden (10) all scored in double-figures.
Watch Angus Glover and Mahmoud Abdelfattah's post-game press conference via the Sydney Kings' YouTube channel above. While you're there, be sure to hit subscribe, to ensure you never miss out on any of our great videos.
Mahmoud Abdelfattah's side, who are now 11-12, now head to Adelaide on Friday for a clash with the 36ers - tipping off at 7.30pm AEDT on ESPN via Kayo Sports.
The Hoops Capital club's final home game of the season is on Sunday, February 11 against Freeway Series rivals Illawarra.
That match at Qudos Bank Arena tips off at 4pm AEDT - with tickets still available here.