14 Jan 2017

Breakers snap losing streak

7:03 am on 14 January 2017

New bloods Kevin Dillard and Paul Carter have delivered breathtaking performances to hoist the New Zealand Breakers off the bottom of the ladder in a 92-74 win over the Sydney Kings.

Breakers import Paul Carter.

Breakers import Paul Carter. Photo: PHOTOSPORT

The Kings came into the game in free fall, following a horror stretch of eight losses in 10 games, punctuated by the sudden departure of former LA Laker Steve Blake, an indefinite hamstring injury for star recruit Brad Newley and the worrying form of Kevin Lisch. That run got even worse across the ditch.

The play of the game - maybe the season - went to new Breakers import Dillard (19 points, six rebounds, six assists), who played just the second game for his new club, in the third quarter.

While he was struggling behind play with a loose contact lens, Dillard was dished the ball in transition off a steal, then deftly put the ball on the floor behind his back (not even looking) to Paul Carter who served up an alley-oop for Mitchell to finish with authority.

While Dillard was flashy, the Breakers lacked the function to halt a stirring Kings comeback from eight points behind in the third quarter. Needing a hero, Jason Cadee delivered for the visitors with two three-pointers - one from way downtown.

And when import Josh Powell stole the lead for the Kings with two minutes left in the term, he let the baying crowd know all about it.

It was short-lived, though, with Dillard getting under their skin and drawing an unsportsmanlike foul that triggered a 13-3 run. Game, Breakers.

Import sharpshooter Carter (23 points, six rebounds), another New Zealand greenhorn, was sublime.

He bolted out of the blocks and led New Zealand to a 24-21 first quarter lead, draining 10 points and pulling down three rebounds in a stellar start to the game.

A shooting clip of 53 per cent (compared to the Kings' 43) was the main difference in a quarter which no King managed to stand up, with strike weapon Lisch going at 1/4 for the term.

Luck didn't seem to favour the Breakers, as what appeared to be a monster Mitchell block was ruled a goaltend and Kirk Penny tread a millimetre too far as he set for a triple, ruled out of bounds.

But the game soon broke open as the wayward Kings struggled to find the bottom of the net, a Carter triple and a Mitchell one-handed slam highlights as New Zealand stretched the lead out to 35-25 midway through the quarter.

Sydney managed to slow the pace of the game, though, restricting the Breakers as they clawed their way to back within three points.

The resistance was short lived. As the Kings shooting clip plummeted to 34 per cent, the Breakers cashed in with an open look three from Shea Ili and a breakaway basket from Dillard stretching the lead to 43-36 at half-time.

The furious Kings comeback in the third let to a heated exchange between both sides, leading to a Mitchell technical foul and an unlikely 61-60 Kings lead heading into the final term.

But Dillard's heroics arrested the slide and the Breakers clawed back a much-needed win.