NBL 2014/15 Round 14: Gladness fires as Crocs chomp Kings

View image | gettyimages.com

An impressive performance from the visiting Townsville Crocodiles has lifted their spirits en route to a 98-89 triumph over the slumping Sydney Kings.

The victory now puts the Crocs level on wins with the Kings with the two teams also tied with Adelaide all on seven wins.

Townsville led from start to finish, with an emphasis of getting the ball inside at all costs, highlighting big games from the Crocs’ forwards and even more so, their big centrepiece in Mickell Gladness.

Gladness had arguably his best game of his short NBL career, notching 11 points, 15 rebounds and five blocks. His efficient 5-7 shooting from the field caused all sorts of trouble for the Kings while at the other end of the court he was showing off his best assets of interior defence.

With the Crocs players issuing a statement throughout the week that they were determined to give star forward Brian Conklin some help, they certainly followed through with their intentions. Conklin, who was once again serviceable with 19 points and nine rebounds, was joined by all of his starters in scoring double figures as Todd Blanchfield (18 points), Mitch Norton (15 points) and Clint Steindl (13 points) all chipped in when needed.

For the Kings it was an odd sort of evening, as Josh Childress couldn’t find space to strut his powerful offensive game. Scoring 16 points on 6-18FG shooting while collecting four fouls was not your typical Childress night.

A horrid first quarter for the Kings saw the deficit quickly reach double figures and the score sat at 9-20 in the visitors favour and then 11-23 at the opening break.

Tom Garlepp certainly didn’t help the cause, missing his first handful of shots before reigniting his offensive form as of late to finish with 11 points.

Ben Madgen was the team’s top scorer with 18, while Daniel Joyce provided a much needed boost in the first half, chalking up 11 quick fire points to keep the margin within touching distance.

The game had been marked by Gladness extremely early in the game, as one of his five blocks was recorded in the opening minute of the game; a clean rejection of a Childress shot with meaning.

Despite the Kings fielding a resurgence in the second quarter cutting the lead back to just two, that margin was the closest of the game from that point on as the Crocs settled back into their groove and lent on key players.

Sydney was once again without big man Angus Brandt, who is still nursing a knee injury. The Kings will be looking to exact revenge on their opponents as they face the Crocs for the third time in as many rounds to kick off Round 15 next week.

Townsville on the other hand will now focus on the fourth and final Reptile Rumble of the season as they host the Cairns Taipans on Sunday.

Sydney Kings 89 (Madgen 18, Childress 16, Cadee 12)

Townsville Crocodiles 98 (Conklin 19, Blanchfield 18, Norton 15)

@ Qantas Credit Union Arena