As a new year looms it was the same old problems that troubled the Breakers in their defeat to the Adelaide 36ers today.
Fouls and the inability to get to the line hampered the Breakers as they suffered their ninth defeat of the season with their playoff hopes now looking slim. The 109-98 loss leaves the Breakers needing a vast improvement in 2019 to have any hopes of making the postseason.
Despite an early 10-point lead, Kevin Braswell's side still found themselves in foul trouble yet again and finished with four players fouling out including import Shawn Long who failed to make an impact on the game finishing with five points.
The Breakers managed just one attempt from the free-throw line in the first half, it was missed, compared to 19 for the home side, not helped by a quiet second quarter as they gave up a three-point lead at the end of the first to go into halftime down by six.
Adelaide then had went on a 11-0 run to start the second half to take a 17-point lead and control of the game. Strangely that's when the Breakers began to find a rhythm, flipping the switch and getting to free throw line more frequently. However the margin was too much to chase down, not helped by a poor percentage from behind the arc making just nine for 34 attempts.
Daniel Johnson, who passed the 4,000 career point mark in the win, finished with a game high 28 points including an impressive 16 from 17 at the line. He was backed up by Nathan Sobey who had 21 points, 12 rebounds and seven assists.
The 36ers finished with 36 from 44 attempts at the free-throw line, more than double that of the Breakers who improved on a woeful first half stat of zero to finish with 17 from 23. Unfortunately the fouls kept coming for the Breakers which stopped any flow and potential fightback.
Shea Ili, one of the four to leave the game early with five fouls, top scored for the Breakers with 19 points while Finn Delany produced 11 points in the third quarter to finish with 18 off the bench. Jarrad Weeks once again was impressive off the bench also scoring 18.
"When a team has 44 free-throws, it's going to be hard to beat that team. Even if you score a low percentage you're still going to have a lot of points while the clock's not running," Breakers assistant coach Mike Fitchett said after the loss.
"It's something we definitely have to clear up. They drove at us and we were caught with fouls. We've got to make adjustments and we obviously weren't quick enough to do that," he added.
For the 36ers it was their fourth straight win and they will look to make it five against the Breakers on Friday as the Auckland side remain in Adelaide for the week as part of a stretch that sees them play five away games in six fixtures.