Tom Abercrombie and Anthony Drmic dive for the ball in New Zealand’s nine-point win at Adelaide Entertainment Centre on Sunday. Picture: Kelly Barnes/Getty Images
Tom Abercrombie and Anthony Drmic dive for the ball in New Zealand’s nine-point win at Adelaide Entertainment Centre on Sunday. Picture: Kelly Barnes/Getty Images

Sixers’ season at crossroads after another loss

ADELAIDE'S NBL season is suddenly at the crossroads after losing a third-consecutive game to a team below it on the ladder, going down 96-87 to New Zealand at home on Sunday.

Entering the match on the back of losses to Illawarra and Cairns, the 36ers were outscored 26-18 during the fourth quarter of a contest that had been tight until late.

The result leaves Adelaide with an 8-10 record ahead of tough clashes this week against Perth (home) and Sydney (away).

On Sunday, the biggest lead either team had in the first three quarters was five points and the margin was just one at each of the three breaks.

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But New Zealand edged clear during the fourth period on the back of imports Scotty Hopson (28 points, seven rebounds) and Sek Henry (20 points, eight assists).

One of the most crucial passages of the game came when Henry blocked a Daniel Johnson shot near the bucket with the 36ers four down with two-and-a-half minutes remaining, then took it coast-to-coast with a left-handed lay-up.

Adelaide was then made to pay for giving up a jumpball and offensive rebound, as Hopson drove and dunked to all but seal the result with 1min 45secs to go.

Jerome Randle driving to the basket for Adelaide against New Zealand on Sunday. Picture: Kelly Barnes/Getty Images
Jerome Randle driving to the basket for Adelaide against New Zealand on Sunday. Picture: Kelly Barnes/Getty Images

The match was played in front of 7042 people - an impressive number given the opponent - and the 36ers donated $1 for each attendee to the State Government's emergency relief fund for the Cudlee Creek fire.

RANDLE VERSUS HOPSON

The battle between Jerome Randle and Hopson felt at times like the game within the game, and they joint topscored with 28 points.

Randle started slowly but exploded during the second quarter, scoring 14 points including two threes.

New Zealand’s Scotty Hopson proved a thorn in Adelaide’s side on Sunday, scoring 28 points. Picture: Kelly Barnes/Getty Images
New Zealand’s Scotty Hopson proved a thorn in Adelaide’s side on Sunday, scoring 28 points. Picture: Kelly Barnes/Getty Images

At the other end, Hopson piled on 17 first-half points for the Breakers, proving hard to stop because of his athleticism and craftiness.

Both continued to impress in the second half, but Randle sat for about six minutes in the third quarter and had his lower right leg assessed on the bench.

Down the stretch, Hopson made big plays to help his side prevail.

FREE THROW PAIN

Adelaide made its first 18 free throws, but missed some at crucial times.

It went 16/16 in the opening half after drawing eight fouls in the first quarter and another five in the second.

Anthony Drmic broke its streak from the line with a miss during the third period and then Eric Griffin went 2/5 in the second half to finish 4/7.

The 36ers only got to the line 13 times after half-time compared to New Zealand's 30.

The Breakers went 30/42 for the game.

TAKE YOUR CHANCES

New Zealand outscored Adelaide 20-4 in second-chance points and that proved crucial.

The 36ers were unable to keep the Breakers off the glass during the final period, when the visitors led the rebound count 13-7, including five offensive boards.

Brandon Ashley and Johnson (nine each) grabbed the most rebounds for the game.