Adelaide 91, Townsville 84
The Sixers put in a tough, physical performance tonight in front of their biggest crowd in recent memory, holding off a gritty Townsville outfit, 91-84.
Adelaide started my ideal first five due to the unexpected withdrawal of Jamar Wilson pre-game. Gibson/Teys/Creek/Petrie/Motum tried hard establishing a full-court press but a few too many times got beat, only to watch Townsville nail some open threes. At the 5:22 mark and leading 17-12, Crocs coach Shawn Dennis inexplicably subbed out Mickell Gladness instead of the more obvious Clint Steindl, who'd just recorded his second foul. 50 seconds later Steindl had his third which helped Adelaide get it back to 17-17. Adelaide turned that 5-0 run into a 13-0 run, giving it a 25-21 lead at quarter time. Adelaide was handling Townsville's zone defence relatively well by attacking the inside, which led to an array of Crocs fouls (9 for the quarter) and related foul trouble for it's bigs.
The Crocs battled hard in the second and got some help from it's bench,especially Leon Henry who scored 9 for the quarter. Adelaide on the other hand struggled to find a consistent avenue to the basket. The team was missing most attempts from outside and the free throw line and relied on grit and muscle. It was enough (just) to hold a 46-43 lead at half-time.
In the third quarter, Adelaide found a few winners. Brendan Teys, who'd not been having a great night, scored 8 and had a hand in setting up some baskets for his team mates. Tom Daly also had a nice cameo, scoring four in the last minute including a buzzer beater to seal a 25-17 quarter and seemingly insurmountable 11 point lead going into the last period.
Townsville opened the fourth with a bang, going on a 15-5 run. Conklin leading the way with 10 on the back of some tremendous hustle and crowd silencing dunks. Holding a one point lead at 76-75, Adelaide went on a run of it's own, thanks largely by going 7/8 from the free throw line (they'd been 13/26 to that point) and keeping it's cool down the stretch.
It wasn't a great win but a good one. It was a pretty even performance by Adelaide, who had a clear best 5 (the starters) who all saw 25+ minutes. It's three best players were our best tonight. Motum (25 points), Gibbo (8pts,8reb,10ast) and Petrie (15 and 7) all led by example and were engaged the whole game.
The Crocs will rue some silly fouls (while also being called for some phantom ones) and the fact no-one put in four good quarters. Conklin was great in the fourth. Blanchfield helped ignite a great start. Markovic had 16 but some pretty bad plays including 5 turnovers.
Next up for Adelaide, now on a 2-0 streak, is Cairns on NYE, followed by the Breakers at home Jan 4. Both are tough but winnable games and Adelaide is starting to build some momentum and getting solid performances from it's bigs, most notably Peach and Motum.