The Sydney Kings have been consigned to their first wooden spoon in five years after a lacklustre loss to the Crocodiles in Townsville on Wednesday night.
In a battle of the the NBL’s two bottom-ranked sides, the Kings led 48-46 at half-time but, as has been the case all season, faded away over the last two quarters to go down 96-88.
The Kings have not finished last since the 20-11 team which went 8-20 in the club’s first season back in the league after a two-year absence.
Sydney have slumped to a 5-19 record while Townsville are now out of reach at 9-15
With former NBA veteran Josh Childress playing a prominent role, the Kings started the match strongly and held a 26-25 advantage after the first quarter.
Both teams displayed deficiencies on defence in the second stanza but Sydney managed to keep their noses in front, leading by two at the main break.
Crocodiles imports Jordair Jett and Omar Samhan stepped up in the third period to give the home side a 72-70 buffer. Kings guard Marcus Thornton hit a rare three-pointer close to the buzzer, just his fourth in a stretch of 26 shots from beyond the arc, to keep the visitors in the hunt.
Townsville forward Leon Henry took out teammate Mitch Young in the fourth quarter as they went up for a rebound with Young taken off the court for treatment after his head hit the hardwood heavily.
Corey Maynard dropped a long bomb to give Townsville a 79-72 lead midway through the fourth stanza.
Childress, with strong support from centre Angus Brandt and guard Jason Cadee, kept the Kings in the contest down the stretch, drawing level at 83-83 inside the last four minutes.
A Cadee three put Sydney in front with two minutes left but they trailed soon after when Thornton was stripped one-on-one by Jett. Samhan then drained a three to propel the Crocs to victory.
Childress led all scorers with 27 points while Brandt (13) and Cadee (18) also played strongly while Jett’s 24-point haul was the top effort from Townsville.
Sydney travel further north for a Friday encounter with the Taipans in Cairns before ending their season of woe with a trip to Perth next Friday, a home clash with the Wildcats the following Wednesday and another trip to Townsville in the final round.
Townsville go to New Zealand for a clash with the Breakers on Friday, are away to Illawarra before hosting Cairns and the Kings.
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