NZ Breakers 93
Sydney Kings 64
Another day another double-digit win for the Breakers - this title defence is starting to seem rather easy.
The reigning Australian NBL champions proved far too explosive for the Sydney Kings at Vector Arena tonight, winning 93-64 to claim their fourth straight, ninth of 11 and league-leading 14th victory of the season.
Incredibly, the 29-point win was the Breakers' seventh in a row by 10 points or more at home, as the North Shore club seems almost unstoppable on this side of the Tasman as they start to cast one eye on the post-season.
Thankfully for those who like their wins to be close contests rather than comprehensive canters, the only team able to match the Breakers in the win column this season, the Perth Wildcats, come into town next week in a true test of the Breakers' title credentials.
And, thankfully for those who like a little variation in their romps, at least this one provided one noteworthy feat - it was played in front of 8000 fans at the downtown venue, a record for both a basketball game in this country and in the NBL this season.
"I almost got a little bit emotional after the game," Breakers forward Dillon Boucher said. "Eight thousand people paid to come see us play basketball - that's pretty amazing for a team that was struggling with 500 people and giving away tickets for games."
Those fans received their money's worth tonight, if not in terms of parity then certainly in terms of entertainment value. The home side repeatedly turned on the type of play at the offensive end of the floor which has seen them unable to find a venue big enough to house their admirers in recent weeks.
In truth, a Sydney side in seventh place and boasting the second-worst defence in the league were probably never going to be able to run with the Breakers, the league's second-highest scorers, for long.
And so it proved as, aside from one minor second-quarter blip which saw the Kings hold a five-point edge, the Breakers barely broke a sweat.
Gary Wilkinson led the home side's scoring with 18, as their share-the-ball mentality saw three players in double figures and two more with nine.
Despite the manner in which his side romped to the win, Breakers coach Andrej Lemanis was less than satisfied with the overall performance, particularly at the defensive end.
"I though we were in and out a little bit," he said. "There were times where we showed Breakers basketball and played well at the defensive end, and there were times where I though we were a little bit all over the place."
After yet another comfortable victory over yet another also-ran, Lemanis refused to take the bait postgame as to the significance of next Thursday's showdown with Perth
"I don't know how much there is on it. [The media] always build these things up greater than they are - it's just a game. There's plenty of basketball to be played."
Boucher, at least, admitted that particular would prove sweeter than most.
"It's just another game but it is playing for first spot right now, and we'd love to have that first spot on out own and knock them down to second.
"I wouldn't say it's personal but, obviously, there's a lot of talk about this game. We're looking at it just like you do any other game."
They'll at least take a measure of confidence into next week's clash, thanks to an impressive offensive performance tonight.
After shooting a woeful 25 per cent from the floor in the first quarter but still managing holding a four-point advantage, the Breakers didn't look back from there, pushing that lead out to 11 points at the half and 13 at the final break.
The fourth quarter brought out a succession of swooshes, alley-oops and dunks, which all proved effective enough to see the scoreboard reading 93-64 at the final buzzer.
Breakers 93 (Wilkinson 18, Abercrombie 16, Jackson 10)
Sydney 64 (Khazzouh 20, Bose 13, Grant 8) HT: 45-34