Dejan Vasiljevic needed a retune after a few scratchy performances, and the man they call ‘DJ’ didn’t disappoint with the sharpshooter playing all of his best hits to help the Kings defend their home court with a 118-102 win over the Phoenix.
It was always going to be hard to replicate what the teams delivered when they played one of the greatest matches in NBL history a couple of weeks ago, but they produced another shootout at Qudos Bank Arena.
The Phoenix got the better of the Kings the first time around in a double overtime epic, but the defending champs got their revenge thanks to a lights out shooting display from Vasiljevic who dropped a career-high 42 points.
The guard must have paid attention to the Sydney forecast because he rained threes in a scorching first half, nailing his first six shots from beyond the arc on his way to 22 points at the main break.
It was an absurd effort from Vasiljevic whose season high heading into Wednesday’s clash was 20 points back in October.
Phoenix fans would have been hoping for a reprieve in the second half but he simply couldn’t be stopped, finishing with 42 points, six rebounds and five assists, with his 10 threes breaking the franchise record for most made in a 40-minute game.
The Kings needed a big game from their shooting star with outstanding point guard Derrick Walton Jr missing the game due to ankle soreness, although he’s not expected to be out long term.
The historic Christmas night clash in Sydney looks to have had a flow on effect with a monster crowd rocking up to Olympic Park to cheer on the ladder leaders.
Winning always makes things easier for teams and Kings officials will be thrilled with what they saw with 11,321 fans in the house with plenty of kids taking advantage of a late night in the school holidays.
The monster crowd was extra special given it was the first day of the Sydney Test against South Africa while North Sydney played host to a T20 match at the same time.
And fans will continue to support a Kings side led by MVP favourite Xavier Cooks who stuffed the stat sheet again with 16 points, seven rebounds and four assists.
POINTS FLOW FOR CREEK
Mitch Creek savaged his own performance last week when the Phoenix were trounced by the JackJumpers, so it was only natural for him to come out with a point to prove against the team he scored 46 against last month.
The Kings would’ve done plenty of video on the veteran but they still couldn’t stop him as Creek dropped 19 points in the first half on his way to a team-high 32.
He was well supported by Kyle Adnam (20 points) who lit it up from long range, but the bench went missing for the visitors with their subs outscored 34-15 by the Kings.
The Phoenix have played more matches than their key rivals and are clinging onto fourth spot ahead of a huge game against the Taipans on Sunday.