In a game that featured a remarkable 47 lead changes and 15 ties, both teams showed desperation and commitment before the Kings were let down by another fourth quarter fadeout.
Simply put, Brisbane made the big plays at the right time down the stretch and Sydney’s inability to get stops when they needed them doomed the purple and gold to a loss that leaves them needing 12 wins in their last 14 games to have any chance of seeing postseason action in 2017/2018.
The team’s lack of execution in crunch time has been an issue over the past few weeks and an emotional Head Coach Andrew Gaze admitted afterwards it was costing his team dearly.
“I think it’s symbolic of the last four or five games,” he said afterwards.
“Even the one we won against Cairns we had to eke out.”
“We’re deteriorating down the stretch and maybe some of that’s my fault for not providing greater rotations, but the game was in the balance the whole way through.”
“In that fourth quarter, we had breakdowns defensively that we hadn’t seen earlier in the game.”
Sydney went toe to toe with the Bullets for most of the night and led 41-40 at the half thanks to 10 points apiece from Jerome Randle and Brad Newley.
And Jeremy Tyler dropped 10 of his game-high 23 points in a dominant third quarter display that gave hope to a potential Kings victory.
But behind a sensational performance from Brisbane import point guard Travis Trice (19 points, six assists, four rebounds, three steals), the Bullets ripped the momentum away from the home team in a key stretch late in the third quarter that gave them a 63-60 lead heading into the final period.
Brisbane kept extending the margin with Trice orchestrating the offence superbly and the Kings failing to take advantage of several opportunities to score, and when Newley fouled out and the Brisbane import point guard buried a three with less than two minutes left, the Kings just couldn’t find a way back and now face an enormous challenge just to get back to the .500 mark this season.
“It’s about the intangibles,” Coach Gaze said.
“It’s how we conduct ourselves, our body language, the way we support each other.”
“We’ve got to figure out a way to put something in place to fix it so ultimately that the players can enjoy the experience and the camaraderie – all those things are important in getting the result, but they’re hard to fix.”
“We’ve got a lot of issues to deal with, and the bulk of them fall on my shoulders. I accept that, and we’ve got to do better.”
Jerome Randle disagreed with his coach’s assessment, specifically the fact that he was taking all of the blame for Sydney’s disappointing record at this stage of the season.
“I’ve never seen a coach blame himself for everything that’s happened,” he said.
“I say that we are well-prepared for these games that we’ve lost.”
“He can’t take the blame for everything because the players have to go out there and play.”
“On the whole I think we get lazy, and we shouldn’t, and I think he’s doing a wonderful job and all the blame shouldn’t be directed at him.”
“He’s holding us accountable, and he’s doing a hell of a job.”
“As a point guard, I feel like I should lead the team a lot better. I’m hard on myself, the same as coach and it’s frustrating to me because I’m such a competitor and I want to win games. It’s my job as a leader to figure out a way to win basketball games.”
“It’s never over till it’s over, and we are going to continue to fight.”
Sydney has just a day of recovery before heading south to continue that fight as they do battle with Melbourne United at Hisense Arena on Monday.
BRISBANE BULLETS 85 (Trice 19, Buford 12, Kickert 11, Te Rangi 11) def. SYDNEY KINGS 77 (Tyler 23, Randle 22, Newley 12) at Qudos Bank Arena.
Author: Matt McQuade