NBL 2014/15 Round 11: Kings hold on against ‘Cats to move into top four

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The Sydney Kings have survived a late charge from Perth to post a tough 78-74 home victory over the defending champions and temporarily move ahead of Melbourne into fourth spot on the NBL ladder.

Sydney started red-hot, jumping out to a 7-0 lead before Trevor Gleeson showed his displeasure by benching his entire starting five after less than three minutes of play.

It worked, with Josh Childress’ and-one to make it 10-0 becoming the last Kings score for nearly four minutes as the visitors rattled off ten straight points of their own to tie the game away.

The Kings again returned fire with the next seven points, heading into the first break with an 18-14 lead after an up-and-down opening term.

Typical of the defending champions’ resolve, the ‘Cats ramped up the defensive intensity and turned the contest into an arm-wrestle to open the second, again levelling the scores before Childress and Tom Garlepp (15 points, 3 assists) got busy to give the Kings more breathing space.

Both teams traded baskets as they battled for the ascendency before Sydney went on a 13-2 run to end the half, with the electrifying Jason Cadee (12 points, 5 rebounds) nailing two triples and Ben Madgen (13 points) chiming in with six points of his own to give the home side a handy 43-28 buffer at the main change.

Three quick fouls in just 75 seconds put the Wildcats on the back foot to open the second half as the Kings continued to hold their highly-fancied opponents at bay early on.

The Wildcats continued to threaten, however, with Jermaine Beal (16 points, 4 rebounds) and Shawn Redhage (9 points), in his 300th appearance in a Perth singlet, ramping it up at the offensive end as the points finally started to flow with a little more consistency.

It seemed every time the visitors made a big play, the Kings would counter with their own, with a couple of vital steals handing the home side back the momentum as Perth grew more and more frustrated with proceedings.

A 65-51 Kings lead at three-quarter time looked to be a winning lead, but, as expected, the defending champions surged, with three-point bombs from Beal and Ernest Ross (10 points, 8 rebounds) kick-starting an 11-0 run that was only broken by a Cadee three with five minutes to play.

As ‘Cats again closed to within a single basket, however two missed free-throws by Ross handed the home side back the momentum, with a Childress put-back giving the Kings a five-point buffer with less than three minutes on the clock.

A huge Madgen three-pointer with 2:20 to play gave the Kings a six-point advantage but the visitors simply wouldn’t roll over, closing to within two on a Drake U’u (10 points, 4-6 FG) three-pointer with a little over a minute still on the clock.

As Ross did earlier, Beal turned from potential hero to villain at the charity stripe, failing to connect on either of his two freebies.

When Jesse Wagstaff grabbed the offensive rebound and put up a game-tying attempt, Childress saved the day with a very timely block before finishing off the move at the other end to seal the deal for the Kings despite Madgen and Cody Ellis adhering to the script and missing all four of their combined attempts at the charity stripe.

As has been the case all season, Childress was the difference maker when it mattered, with the former NBA star finishing the match with 17 points, 10 boards, 7 assists and 4 blocks.

Sydney moved into the top four, temporarily at least, with the win ahead of their huge clash with Melbourne on Sunday, with Perth fell to their fifth loss of the season and slipped below Cairns into third.

Sydney Kings 78 (Childress 17, Garlepp 15, Madgen 13)

Perth Wildcats 74 (Beal 16, Ross 10, U’u 10)