NBL's Kings hold on to beat Bullets 92-80

The Sydney Kings blew a big lead before fighting back to claim a 92-80 NBL victory over Brisbane.
The Sydney Kings blew a big lead before fighting back to claim a 92-80 NBL victory over Brisbane.

The Sydney Kings can still avoid the NBL wooden spoon after holding on for a 92-80 win over the Brisbane Bullets.

The home side's victory was their ninth of the season and lifted them into a share of last place with Brisbane with two games remaining.

Long out of playoff contention, the Kings are also just one win behind sixth-placed Illawarra and coach Andrew Gaze will be driving his team hard to avoid the dreaded spoon.

"I'm more concerned about the process than the position but about three or four weeks ago the guys decided collectively as a team that it's absolutely a goal to not finish last," Gaze said.

"In a competition that is so evenly balanced like ours, it doesn't take much to get into a situation like we were in. But certainly with what we've got right now, we can present some challenges to teams."

Import Jerome Randle (24 points, six assists) starred for Sydney, while fellow American Perry Ellis finished with 17 points and seven rebounds.

Daniel Kickert led the Bullets with 18 points and Travis Trice finished with 16.

Sydney led at every change but endured some anxious second half moments after letting a double-digit lead to be cut to a single point.

"When we got 17 up that was a real opportunity we let go," Gaze said.

"If they had got their noses in front in the third quarter it might've changed the game but they were a little fatigued so that helped us.

"Jerome Randle right now is on the wrong league, his mid-range game is phenomenal."

Spurred on by a Homebush crowd of 9201, the Kings held their nerve in crunch time.

Kickert dominated early, tallying nine points and four rebounds by quarter-time.

But after building an early six-point lead, the Bullets allowed Randle to get hot with nine quick points.

When the first period buzzer sounded, Sydney were ahead 23-22.

The Kings applied the defensive blowtorch in the second quarter, forcing the Bullets into a spate of turnovers and misses.

Sydney rolled to a 17-point lead with two minutes left in the half before Brisbane responded with seven unanswered points to be down 45-35 at half-time.

Led by Kickert and an energised Trice, the Bullets continued to chip away, cutting Sydney's lead to 64-63 at three-quarter time.

But that was as close as they got.

"The first half wasn't Bullets basketball and our defence wasn't where it needed to be and we had 11 turnovers," Brisbane coach Andrej Lemanis said.

"In the second half we turned it around and gave ourselves a chance. Credit to the guys for digging in but a lot of the damage was done in the first half.

"It came down to the end and they made plays and we didn't."

Sydney square off again with the Bullets in Brisbane on Thursday to tip off the NBL's final round.

Australian Associated Press