Tate unstoppable as Kings crush 36ers
US import Jae'Sean Tate has steered Sydney to a pressure-relieving 91-77 rout of Adelaide to consolidate the Kings' spot atop the NBL ladder.
Tate continued an impressive rookie season by pouring in 20 points, to go with seven rebounds and three blocks on Saturday night at Qudos Bank Arena.
The 23-year-old was well supported by Kings veteran duo of Andrew Bogut (13 points, 10 rebounds) and Brad Newley (20 points).
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Sixers pair Jerome Randle (24 points) and Daniel Johnson (15) proved a handful, but it wasn't nearly enough against a motivated Kings defence.
Sydney entered the match in danger of losing pole position for the first time this season after dropping five of their past seven matches.
Adelaide also came in high on self-belief after upsetting defending champions Perth last start to pull within touching distance of the top four. And Sixers coach Joey Wright would've been confident of stealing another victory when his team were within five points at the main break.
However, the Kings' defence muscled up in a game-changing third quarter, limiting the visitors to 13 points for the period to be up by 18 at the final change.
Adelaide rarely threatened thereafter, leaving them with five defeats in their past six and a mighty hill to climb in their final eight games of the regular season.
Kings coach Will Weaver said their display was ominous for the league. "I felt like, right from the jump, our guys were extremely focused and resolved to play the game one possession at a time," he said.
"(The third quarter is) when it started to break open for us. But I thought that approach was on display right from the jump and that's a pretty scary thing for the people we play against."
A dynamic Tate was unstoppable early for Sydney, showing off a vast array of moves to tally 11 points on their way to a two-point first-quarter lead. The highlight was a tomahawk dunk that had the 9023 crowd on their feet.
Bogut kicked in with seven points in the second, however Johnson had 11 at the half to keep Adelaide within striking distance of the title favourites. Wright admitted his team should've taken more advantage of a 16-8 offensive rebound count, led by six from Harry Froling.
"It was like 4-5 putbacks right there, in one possession three of them and we still didn't score and they get a lay-up on the other end of the court," Wright said.
Earlier on Saturday, Sydney revealed key swingman Didi Louzada was expected back for next week's mouth-watering clash with surging Cairns.
However, Kevin Lisch (ankle) isn't expected to return until late January, with Craig Moller (ankle) due to resume in February.
SYDNEY KINGS 91 (J Tate 20 B Newley 20 A Bogut 13) ADELAIDE 36ERS 77 (J Randle 24 D Johnson 15 E Griffin 12) at Qudos Bank Arena.