Townsville 75, Adelaide 73
If there's one thing the 36ers of this era love, it's "firsts". This year alone, Adelaide has taken part in a few "firsts", such as facing Jonny Flynn in his first NBL game and helping the Wilcats christen the new Perth Arena. Last night they pulled off two season firsts: playing Luke Nevill in his first game for the Crocs and by obliging in helping Townsville secure it's first win for the season.
This game was always going to be a challenge but one that Adelaide should have been more than able to achieve. Adelaide was fresh, coming off two great wins over Perth and playing a team that had looked a mess all season long. One of my biggest concerns going into this game was this statement I'd seen in Boti Nagy's Thursday "Adelaide Now" article by coach Marty Clark.
Adelaide had a bye last round after back-to-back wins, home-and-away over the Wildcats, which came in the wake of a 30-point road loss in Melbourne.
"With no disrespect intended to Melbourne, the thought process of the guys was more about the following game (against Perth)," Sixers coach Marty Clarke said.
Sydney Kings are here on Sunday but Clarke said this time, all focus was on Townsville.
Clarke has shown during interviews that he does have a bit of arrogance and misplaced confidence and this statement didn't exactly assure me Adelaide would have learnt that lesson within a few weeks. For whatever reason, Adelaide came out of the blocks with a lack of system (and purpose) in offense.
Stephen Weigh, who'd been so controlled all season long, took 15 shots, hitting just 5. I've been pushing Weigh's case for more shots all season but not the shots he was taking last night. He jacked up a few bad ones.
Guards Jason Cadee and Adam Gibson took 23 shots between them. They hit at a good clip (57%) but season-leading scorers Daniel Johnson (7 shots) and Anthony Petrie (7 shots) were largely an afterthought on offense.
Adelaide took five more shots for the game and hit at a much better percentage (45 to 38) but was let down by it's affection for outside shots, hitting just 4 of 21 three point attempts and consequently only taking eight free throws (hitting 3).
The team defense was pretty good when you consider it held Townsville to 38% and "held" recruit Luke Nevill to four points on 2/9 shooting. Being more honest you'd probably have to say he took some terrible shots with Schenscher right in his face. The difference was Gary Ervin, who seemed to be open all night. He hit 7/16 from the field and 7/7 from the line to finish with the line of 22 points, 6 boards and 5 assists. In the end he was the real difference.....well that and Adelaide hitting 3/8 from the line.
Adelaide comes home to face a Sydney team it knows it can beat. Hopefully it remembers it takes a little more than that to get the win. If it hasn't learned that now after the humbling Tigers loss and last night's effort against a team that effectively was the same as it's been all season long (considering Neville had a pretty Larry Abney-type game), it never will.
Adam Gibson: 17pts (7/13), 1 reb, 7 ast. Solid game and one of his better shooting nights. Couldn't get the W this time though. 7/10
Stephen Weigh: 10pts (5/15), 9 reb, 1 ast. Exploded for 15 shots but his radar was off, especially on the three (0/5). Rebounded well and played a role though. 6/10
Jason Cadee: 13pts (6/10), 4 reb, 3 ast. Showed glimpses off what he can do with some electric attacks at the hoop. Needs to have the ball in his hands more. 6.5/10
CJ Massingale: 4pts (2/6), 0 reb, 0 ast. Only saw near 10 minutes of court time and his shot was off. 2/10
Luke Schenscher: 8pts (4/8), 7 reb, 2 ast. Saw more time thanks to the presence of Nevill and looked more comfortable on offense being matched by another giant. Ensured Nevill did little on the other end. 6.5/10
Anthony Petrie: 7pts (3/7), 4 reb, 1 ast. Struggled to get into the game and was kept pretty quiet. 4.5/10
Daniel Johnson: 8pts (3/7), 6 reb, 0 ast. Poor backup from his POTW effort against Perth. Must improve consistency and toughness. 4.5/10
Mitch Creek: 4pts (2/3), 2 reb, 0 ast. Minimal impact. 2.5/10
Nathan Crosswell: 2pts (1/4), 3 reb, 0 ast. Played 15 minutes and was misused by playing a lot with Cadee this game. Needs a clearer role in the rotation. 2.5/10
Chris Cedar: 0pts (0/0), 0 reb, 0 ast. Only played 1 minute. 0/10
Ben Allen: 0pts (0/1), 0 reb, 0 ast. Played 4 minutes and with the inclusion of Nevill looks like he'll pay dearly for not living up to the hype. 0/10
Mitch Norton: 10pts (2/4), 0 reb, 1 ast. Did some good things, especially the 5/5 from the line. Encouraging performance. 5/10
Gary Ervin: 22pts (7/16), 6 reb, 5 ast. The difference. Controlled much of the game and was money down the stretch. 8/10
Russ Hinder: 9pts (4/8), 4 reb, 0 ast. Looks like he's slowly getting back to some of his old form. 5/10
Todd Blanchfield: 4pts (2/7), 4 reb, 1 ast. Shot was off and struggled to have much impact. 3.5/10
Peter Crawford: 9pts (3/7), 1 reb, 0 ast. Not anywhere near Olympic or career best form. Shows how much Ervin meant considering his minimal impact on the result. 4/10
Michael Cedar: 11pts (4/7), 1 reb, 1 ast. His three triples were important. 5.5/10
Jacob Holmes: 6pts (2/9), 16 reb, 1 ast. J-Ho continues to haunt his old team. Massive on the boards. 7/10
Luke Nevill: 4pts (2/9), 5 reb, 0 ast. Took too many bad shots and struggled to contain Schensch. Will help this team though. 4/10