Sometimes - just sometimes - numbers can and do tell a lie, never mind how much you try to massage them to accentuate fact-based information in trying to support arguments in sport.
Frankly, the temptation was to simply again drive the 2 Cheap Cars Supercity Rangers to the nearest scrapyard in the National Basketball League (NBL) this season amid despair and bewilderment as to why the Auckland franchise persist with their sponsorship, even if it does fill their coffers.
That, cruelly, would have been too cheap a shot after the hosts' 118-107 loss to the Taylor Corporation Hawks at Massey Leisure Centre (YMCA) tonight.
Instead, a more humane way of analysing the round-seven double header for the Jarrod Kenny-captained visitors was to remove the hype and inflated data around a result that apologetically made the Rangers look better than they were when, perhaps, a 150-plus Hawks total was in the offing.
The Zico Coronel-coached Hawks won the first quarter 32-24, backed it up with 32-25 for a half-time lead of 64-49, then maintained a sedate 27-20 lead in the third quarter (91-69) before letting the Rangers take it home in the final spell, 38-27.
The last quarter, for argument's sake, is an anomaly because coach Jeff Green's men simply aren't worth that sort of currency exchange collectively and their seventh place on the nine-team NBL ladder on the lean pickings of two wins from nine outings endorse that. More pertinent is the Hawks' second placing with five wins on the trot and two losses from 10 matches.
Similarly, Timothy Quarterman's match-high 48 points in 40 minutes isn't an accurate reflection of what transpired on the court for his Rangers' outfit although that shouldn't detract from the small forward's double-double 11 rebounds, with seven assists to boot.
If anything, it showed the American import can feature in the overall NBL season statistics when he cuts out the antics he displayed when he unceremoniously shoved Hawks swingman Ethan Rusbatch from behind in the 98-86 loss at the Pettigrew-Green Arena in Napier on April 13. The incident had almost sparked a fight on the court and prompted Green to bench Quarterman.
More relevant tonight was Rusbatch's 35 points and one rebound shy of posting a double-double in 31 minutes of play that would have warmed the cockles of Tall Blacks coach Paul Henare. Power forward Brandon Bowman added 32 points and made seven assists while fellow US import small forward EJ Singler showed why he jostles with other MVP contenders with 22 points, eight off the boards, seven assists and a block.
While there's a hint of the end-of-season All Stars quality for some players, any implications that such inflated numbers suggest a significant trend is misleading and tilted more towards "ego metrics".
That Coronel started rolling on and off his five bench players from as early as the second quarter means the figures will skew towards a misleading perception of the Rangers' prowess in, for argument's sake, their sense of parity. For the record, Everard Bartlett and Dion Prewster got more than 20 minutes while Nick Fee, Darryl Jones and Jamal Mikaio mustered no more than five minutes each between them.
The prudent can argue it's still a selection bias and an element of visual trickery tends to set in on the road because at home matches more players will warm the bench without taking court against more decent oppositions.
Sure, there's more than a modicum of truth in such results in that the Hawks were always billed to prevail. What the basketball faithful weren't privy to before the game was how much damage they would do to the opposition.
In many respects, the fans remain in the twilight zone of uncertainty after the game because the likes of Australian import centre Daniel Kickert, who was pivotal in the 119-105 victory over the Southland Sharks in Invercargill on Thursday, made a cameo 10-minute appearance for five points and six rebounds tonight.
So was it as easy as it looks for the Hawks?
"Ah, I don't know because it was kind of quite an unusual game," Coronel said tonight, emphasising his troops had played five games, including two back-to-back double-header rounds in 14 days.
In the long road trips he said the Hawks had only trained three times in as many weeks in trying to navigate training schedule with the travelling demands.
That meant managing the players' court time before training on Tuesday in preparation of hosting the Taranaki Mountainairs for the third time — following two wins against them — in a 3pm tip off on Sunday next week. That game also will be subject to meaningless statistics because they sit last on the table with one win to show from seven matches.
Coronel took some comfort tonight in playing everyone in the first half but while he wanted to give the fringe players more court time he felt the Rangers had done a good enough job to demand more experience.
Having served as a career assistant coach for more than a decade here, he didn't think Quarterman's match points had caused an seismic shifts in the NBL landscape.
Coronel said because the game against the Sharks was totally different from the one tonight he was unable to ascertain if the Hawks had worked on areas, such as rebounding, that had required attention.
"We'll have a better indication when we play a bigger competitive-on-the-offensive-board type of teams, that is more similar to the Sharks."
He agreed limited minutes was on Kickert's agenda to give him more time to recover.
"Obviously he played heavy minutes against Southland so it's worthwhile for us to do that because he's 35 years old so he's an exceptionally good player and very valuable to us and you don't want to extend him anymore than necessary.
"We were going to win that game comfortably so we just wanted to make sure we took care of him and utilised him just a little bit," he explained, adding they didn't want to take him for granted but once it became apparent they had the game sewn up they left him on the bench.
Result: Supercity Rangers 107 (Timothy Quarterman 48pts, 11 reb, 7 asts; Venkatesh Jois 20pts, 5 reb; Nanna Egwu 19pts, 6 reb) Taylor Corp Hawks 118 (Ethan Rusbatch 35pts, 9 reb; Brandon Bowman 32pts 7 asts; EJ Singler 22pts, 8 reb, 7 asts, 1 block; Dion Prewster 12pts).
Quarters (Rangers first), 1st: 24-32. 2nd: 49-64 (25-32). 3rd: 69-91 (20-27). Final: 107-118 (38-27).
— Fiba live scoring