Kings lose top-of-the-table clash to United
The Sydney Kings will head into the FIBA break on the back of a loss after going down 105-93 to Melbourne United at John Cain Arena on Sunday.
Despite the defeat, the Kings remain in second on the ladder after eight rounds.
Both teams started slowly on the offensive end before Alex Toohey and Denzel Valentine sparked the Hoops Capital side to a 10-0 run. In his first career NBL start, Jonah Bolden was also strong on both ends of the floor for the Kings before United responded thanks to turnovers by Sydney – seeing the game all tied up (21-all) with just over one minute to play. A late free-throw by Michigan product Valentine put the harbour city side up by one (22-21) at the first change.
Mahmoud Abedlfattah’s team extended their lead at the start of the second, thanks to a 12-2 run, powered by bench players Kouat Noi and Makuach Maluach – in his first game back in Melbourne since leaving United in the off-season. Buckets from DJ Hogg inside the key and Bolden helped the two-time reigning champions stretch that lead to 45-28 with two minutes left in the half. Despite Chris Goulding landing shots from downtown, they were cancelled out by efforts by Hogg and Valentine, as the purple and gold led 53-38 at the main break.
????? ?? @denzelvalentine ?— Sydney Kings (@SydneyKings) November 19, 2023
Our guy has 5? assists at the half - check out the best of his pretty passes below!
Watch our clash with @MelbUnited now via @ESPNAusNZ/@kayosports, @10PeachAu and @10PlaySport.#LetItReign pic.twitter.com/3YHKZUvPVD
Valentine picked up where he left off in the second, starting the period with a triple but then the hosts rattled off eight straight – capped by a Jo Lual-Acuil Jr dunk. Impact by substitutes Angus Glover and Maluach kept the scoreboard ticking over for the Kings but despite this, the lead was reduced to three with 2.17 to play. Clutch snipes from downtown by Hogg and Shaun Bruce steadied the ship for the visitors, who held a 72-65 advantage at three-quarter-time.
United burst out of the blocks in the fourth, scoring 11 of the first 16 points – closing the margin to just one. Despite a crafty finish by Jaylen Adams, a Goulding triple soon after made it 81-all. A tough three, as the shot clock expired by Flynn Cameron, made it 86-81 – forcing Abdelfattah to call a time-out. That did little to stop the momentum of the hosts with Goulding’s radar well and truly staying on target with two quick triples, as Melbourne’s advantage blew out to 13 points. Five quick points by Noi closed the gap to just eight but that was as close as the Sydney got, as Melbourne ran out winners by 12 points.
Where the match was decided
The top-of-the-table clash was determined by statistical wins by United in three-point percentage (51-35), free-throw (65-53), rebounds (47-43), assists (21-16), steals (8-2) and points off turnovers (18-12).
Melbourne’s huge second half, including 40 points in the fourth quarter, sealed the league leaders' win on Sunday.
Player of the game
In the defeat, Hogg top-scored for the Kings with 20 points to go along with six rebounds and four triples.
Joining the Texas product in double-figures were Valentine (19 points, seven dimes and six boards), Noi (12 points and five rebounds), Bolden (10 rebounds and nine boards) and Toohey (10 points and four rebounds).
Watch Mahmoud Abdelfattah and Alex Toohey discuss Sunday's win in the post-game press conference via 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.
Abdelfattah’s side, who are now 7-4, now have 12 days off due to the FIBA break before their next game – a road trip to Perth’s RAC Arena to battle the Wildcats on Friday, December 1 from 9.30pm AEDT.
The Kings’ next home fixture is on Sunday, December 10, where they’ll host South East Melbourne from 3.45pm at Qudos Bank Arena as part of the DC Multiverse Round.
Tickets for that clash are available here.