The Sydney Kings have squared the NBL finals series with an 81-74 victory over the New Zealand Breakers at Auckland’s Spark Arena tonight.
The Breakers drew first blood in Sydney last Friday with a convincing victory to take a 1-0 lead in the best of five series but tonight the Kings dominated from start to finish and never allowed their opponents the lead.
The visitors were battered and bruised from game one, with league MVP Xavier Cooks playing limited minutes tonight and fellow star Darren Walton leaving the court injured in the second quarter.
But with Justin Simon dominating at both ends of the court – he got a remarkable six steals, five in the second half – and the Breakers cold offensively until the fourth quarter, the Kings got it done comfortably in front of a sellout crowd.
They were up 21-9 at the end of first quarter, the Breakers successful with only four of 18 shots from the field, and led 34-30 at halftime.
The normally reliable Will McDowell-White – a standout last Friday – struggled, with Simon making back-to-back steals against him in the third quarter and while the Breakers narrowed the gap to 34-32, that was as close as the home side got.
The Kings led by as many as 18 points, but, led by Jarrell Brantley, the Breakers went on a 7-0 run before the visitors recovered, although, with Barry Brown Jr and Izayah Le’afa finding their range from beyond the arc, the Breakers at least gave their fans something to cheer about in the fourth quarter.
Two threes from Brown Jr, who top scored for the game with 21 points, twice narrowed the deficit to 10 points, with Le’afa playing a similar role quickly after.
However, the Kings were too composed and saw the game out comfortably.
Only six Breakers players scored, with Thomas Abercrombie scoring only two points - from a breakaway dunk.
Game three is next Friday at Qudos Arena, with game four back at Spark Arena next Sunday.