Wright lays down challenge to 36ers as Ball ruled out
ADELAIDE 36ers coach Joey Wright says his side needs to win six of its last eight games to remain in the NBL finals hunt ahead of what is now a vital home clash with a LaMelo Ball-less Illawarra Hawks.
A third quarter fade out proved to be the Sixers undoing against the Sydney Kings on the road on Saturday night, as the NBL leaders scored 13 more points than Adelaide to run out 91-77 winners.
"(In the) first half I think we did go toe-to-toe, they didn't get a run, we didn't get a run," Wright said.
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"(In the) third quarter it was kind of wait and see who would get going, and they got going … and our momentum got broken."
The loss came despite the Sixers out-rebounding the Kings on the offensive end 16-8, with a 32.9 per cent field goal completion killing an Adelaide side that took more shots than the ladder leaders.
"We just need to knock down a few more shots," Wright said.
"Some nights you just miss.
"There were areas that we were statistically better, but sometimes you just need to make shots.
"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 at the other end of the court."
The 36ers are two wins off a top-four spot as the NBL season approaches its end.
Wright said his side would now need to go on a winning run to be a chance.
"There is plenty of time, the ladder is still so close, we will bounce up and down - hopefully more up," he said.
"(We) need to win six games (out of the final eight) to make a run of it and if we do, hopefully we can make the top four."
That starts with a clash against the Hawks at the Adelaide Entertainment Centre on Monday night.
Fresh off a loss to Melbourne United the Hawks will continue to be without Ball, ESPN's No. l NBA draft prospect for 2020, as he recovers from a foot injury that prevented him from playing in Adelaide last month - with fans snapping up tickets prior to his injury to see the teen phenom in action.
Ball is still in a walking boot and is on crutches as he recovers from the injury, believed to be bone bruising, he suffered in practice.
There was a hope that Ball would make his return from injury in Adelaide, but Hawks coach Matt Flinn said he would not be playing.
"Melo, I believe he is having his scan early next week and hopefully then we will have a definitive answer," he said.
"He's been in the boot, these things take time to heal.
"Hopefully we can get a definitive return to play for him."