THE Auckland Turatara’s losing streak has continued in the NZNBL, with Thursday night’s contest seeing them fall to the Otago Nuggets to the tune of five points.
After suffering a loss last weekend, Auckland was unable to bounce back against its biggest competitor, with the Nuggets just holding on for a win, outlasting the opposition in the final term to get up 99-95 at Eventfinda Stadium.
Billy Boyd III top scored for the match, giving Otago a major scoring boost with 28 points on some extremely efficient shooting. He nailed 10 of his 15 field goal attempts, and was a reliable source of points throughout the game. Boyd was one of four players to register 20 or more points in a masterful display from the Otago starters. Todd Withers (24 points, nine rebounds), Samuel Timmins (22 points, seven rebounds) and Keith Williams (20 points, eight rebounds) all contributed in a major way, and exposed the defensive flaws in Auckland’s lineup.
For the Turatara, Chris Johnson led the way with 23 points (the most of anyone on his side) and nine rebounds. Also chiming in were Siler Schnider with 22 points, while Robert Loe battled bravely in the air and recorded a double-double of 15 points and 10 rebounds. However, these efforts were not enough as the home side found themselves completely outplayed in various stages of the contest.
In a high-scoring first term, both sides delivered their respective brands of offence that has served them well to start the year. With an emphasis on taking full advantage of transition basketball, the Nuggets took a four-point lead into the first change of play, and the contest was shaping up to be a ripper.
The Turatara were terrific to open the second term, completely erasing the deficit in the opening few minutes, and even jumping out to a decent lead. They led by as much as seven points throughout the quarter, but the Nuggets fought back to close out the half. With a strong balance of inside and outside baskets, Otago owned the final couple of minutes of play and headed into half time with an impressive eight-point advantage.
Auckland kept itself in the game in the third quarter, going on a 5-0 run to start the second half and keeping the margin around the same mark for the rest of the term. The Turatara cut the half-time deficit in half, and trailed by just four points halfway through the period, but once again it was the Nuggets that finished the term strong. They managed to wrestle back the momentum and headed into the fourth with a nine-point advantage on the scoreboard.
It took the Turatara just five minutes to erase that margin, and even retake the lead with less than five minutes to play. With all the momentum going one way, it looked as if Auckland would run over the top of the opposition. However, the Nuggets lifted in the closing stages of the game, and some timely free throws from Boyd ended up sealing a crucial win.
The win sees the Nuggets now just one game behind the Turatara for top spot, with the race for the position now wide open.