The Sydney Kings overcame a sluggish start and the temporary absence of star guard Ben Madgen to record a hard-fought 88-85 road win over the Adelaide 36ers on Sunday. A dominant 30-7 run either side of quarter-time proved pivotal, and the Kings defended grandly as the Sixers mounted a spirited second-half fightback. Former 36er Aaron Bruce was the match-winner in the final term, finishing with 22 points and five assists, while Ben Madgen scored 14 points despite sustaining a nasty first-term shoulder dislocation. Adelaide playmaker Adam Gibson was also outstanding in the clutch, recording a fine double-double (22 points, 10 assists), while big men Daniel Johnson (24 points, 8 boards) and Luke Schenscher (18, 12) were prominent. The twin towers proved a handful in the paint early as the Sixers started with a 12-6 burst before back-up guard Kevin White inspired a Kings fightback. White blasted eight first-quarter points at 100 per cent , including a buzzer-beating jumper from the corner to give the visitors a 21-20 quarter-time edge. But Sydney were rocked when Anthony Petrie landed on Madgen in the second quarter. In obvious pain, Madgen staggered from the court and retreated to the rooms.
Sydney coach Shane Heal expects to be without Madgen at least in the short-term. "He's going to need some time on the sideline," Heal said. "We're not sure how long that's going to be. It (shoulder) popped out and they (medicos) had to pop it back in. "There will be some kind of damage any time you do that."
Madgen's loss seemed to inspire the visitors who embarked on an 11-0 second-term flurry amid an overall 30-7 run to turn the game. With Graeme Dann (9 second-quarter points) having his way inside, Sydney established a healthy 46-32 half-time lead.
"The guys played with a lot of passion and desire in that second quarter," Heal said.
"It really set up the win for us." Adelaide went back to basics in the third period as Johnson piloted a gutsy fightback. The 212cm athlete scored nine points for the stanza, including two big triples, to help peg the deficit to nine points at three quarter-time. London Olympian Gibson then caught fire in crunch time, nailing 18 fourth-quarter points, including four treys, three of them coming in less than two minutes, to slice the margin back to two points. But a crucial Gibson technical foul with 2min 23sec remaining and smart fourth-quarter playmaking from Bruce allowed the Kings to hold on in tense fashion.
Adelaide coach Marty Clarke admitted the 36ers' poor second term proved decisive. "We missed some layups and three-pointers (in the second term)," he said. "They weren't bad shots, they just didn't fall. That put pressure on the other end of the floor and our defence started to fall apart. "At half-time we still thought we were more than capable of getting that margin back in, but we just couldn't quite do it." Sydney Kings 88 (Bruce 22, Madgen 14, White 13)
Adelaide 36ers 85 (Johnson 23, Gibson 22, Schenscher 18)
Crowd: 4015 at Adelaide Arena