Vasiljevic leads Kings to bounce-back win over Breakers
By Matt McQuade
Result: Brydens Lawyers Sydney Kings 84 New Zealand Breakers 65
Stats that matter: Kings 40 points in the paint; Rebound count Kings 49 Breakers 35; Kings 12 offensive rebounds; Kings 18 assists
Kings MVP: Dejan Vasiljevic was an offensive force all afternoon for the purple and gold.
Turning Point: It happened late in the first quarter when Vasiljevic knocked down a pair of triples to push the Kings out to a double-figure lead.
The game was over when: Jaylen Adams threw it up; Jarell Martin slammed it down.
Trending in the right direction: The spread of scoring. Eight guys hit the scoresheet in a positive sign.
A dominant performance from Sydney’s Dejan Vasiljevic has led the Brydens Lawyers Sydney Kings to an all the way 84-65 victory against the New Zealand Breakers on Sunday afternoon at Qudos Bank Arena.
The Kings never trailed at any stage in a nice bounce-back win after a tough loss on Friday night in Hobart to the Tasmania JackJumpers, and while there were many contributors in what was a solid performance, it was Vasiljevic who stood out with his deadly combination of perimeter shooting and relentless attack on the rim.
Dejan had 10 of his game-high 23 points in the first quarter and combined with big man Jarell Martin (13 points, 11 rebounds) for 20 points in the opening frame as the Kings set up a 25-16 advantage.
The second quarter was more of the same as Sydney’s impressive guard had another six points, with Jaylen Adams (17 points, seven rebounds, six assists, three steals) adding nine points of his own, helping the Kings to push their lead out to as much as 22 points at one stage early in the period.
“I was a bit passive on Friday night and Chase (Coach Buford) just told me to be aggressive, not force anything but just play my game,” Dejan said.
“I think I did that and kickstarted the team.”
“A lot of people are going to play me tight and close me out, so all I have to do is rip and go. If I can mix that in with the three-point shooting I become hard to guard, and that’s what I did tonight.”
Sydney’s first half defence was also a big key to the W.
The purple and gold were in lockdown mode with the team collapsing the middle whenever the Breakers tried to drive into the paint in the opening twenty minutes. Add that to a stellar effort from the perimeter defenders as they constantly forced tough outside shots from the visitors, and it all added up to the home team being in total control, racing to a 51-35 lead at the main break.
To their credit, the Breakers came out with some fight in the third quarter, as Sydney’s offence started to bog down and New Zealand began to knock down some three-pointers, with a 9-0 Breaker run pulling the margin back to single figures with less than four minutes remaining in the period.
Baskets from Adams and Vasiljevic helped stem the tide, but Finn Delany (11 points, six rebounds) nailed his team’s fourth triple of the frame and the Breakers trailed by just nine, 60-51, with one quarter remaining, making the 5,011 in attendance start to feel a little nervous after the Kings managed just nine points in the third.
And when New Zealand Next Star Ousmane Dieng (14 points, five rebounds), started to heat up with three fourth quarter triples to offset key baskets from Sydney’s Tom Vodanovich (four points, four rebounds), Shaun Bruce (five points) and Angus Glover (eight points, 3/3 FG), the nerves were jangling at the Q with the Breakers trailing by seven points with more than six minutes left.
But as they did every time the visitors made a charge this afternoon, the purple and gold responded.
First, it was Glover with a key offensive rebound and stick back for the deuce.
Then Xavier Cooks (five points, nine rebounds) made a great defensive play with a blocked shot on a driving Finn Delany.
And Vasiljevic, as he did all afternoon, made another big shot with a deep triple to push Sydney’s lead out to double figures.
Peyton Siva (11 points, three steals) nailed a three-pointer to give his team some hope with four minutes left, but that would be New Zealand’s final score of the ballgame as the Kings roared home.
Jaylen Adams found Jarell Martin with a beautiful pass for the one-handed alley-oop throwdown and Glover swished a long-range bomb at the buzzer to put the icing on the cake, with Sydney taking their record to 6-7 on the season and fifth place on the NBL ladder.
“It was another great defensive performance,” Brydens Lawyers Sydney Kings Head Coach Chase Buford said.
“To hold them to 32% shooting and 30% from twos; I thought our defence was terrific at the rim. The way ‘X’ and Jarell guarded down there, the way our guys were fighting over screens – I was just really, really pleased with the defensive performance, and then we rebounded the ball terrifically as well.”
“I’m really proud of the effort. To fight back, to play as few guys as we did over the course of two games in 36 hours took a lot out of them, so I appreciate the effort they gave at the defensive end and I’m really pleased.”
Sydney shot the ball at 44% from the field, were 9 of 27 from three-point range and 17 from 24 from the free throw line. They dominated the rebound count 49-35 and had a whopping 40 points in the paint.
And the Kings also had 18 assists on 29 made field goals – a pointer to what was, for the most part, a game where they moved the ball exceptionally well and tried to find the open man wherever possible.
“There was a little moment in the third quarter where it got a little sticky and we have these lulls in the game right now so we have to work through that and get better,” Coach Buford admitted.
“But the ball movement was great. I think we had five assists in the first quarter; we kept driving, kept sharing the ball – across the board everyone just kept moving the ball and it was great.”
Sydney faces a difficult away/home double in Round 11. On Thursday 10 February, the Kings will head to Melbourne to play the South East Melbourne Phoenix at John Cain Arena, with tipoff scheduled for 7:30pm AEST. Then on Sunday 13 February, the purple and gold will take on the Brisbane Bullets at Qudos Bank Arena, with tipoff at 3:00pm AEST. Tickets for Sunday’s game are now available via Ticketek.
BRYDENS LAWYERS SYDNEY KINGS 84 (Vasiljevic 23, Adams 17, Martin 13)
NEW ZEALAND BREAKERS 65 (Wetzell 16, Dieng 14, Delany 11, Siva 11) at Qudos Bank Arena.