Randle’s nightmare return as Casper haunts 36ers
JEROME Randle returned to Sydney to face his old team, but there were no sweet homecomings as the Kings scored a 22-point win over Adelaide in their home season opener at Qudos Bank Arena.
Randle showcased his trademark handles, but it was prized Kings recruit Casper Ware who seemed to relish the chance to go head to head in the early point-guard battle.
Ware’s first two baskets came from attacking the rim, and muscling through Randle for inside looks. That appeared to set the tone for the Kings’ early focus of attack on the way to winning the battle of points in the paint, 40-32.
“I thought we gave them really easy looks right at the beginning, gave them a rhythm, kind of got them in a flow,” said 36ers coach Joey Wright. “We were playing catch-up from the beginning. Made a couple of good runs at them but it was probably too little, too late.”
Ware scored only 10 points, but was ably supported by Brad Newley (18), Kevin Lisch (nine points and six assists), Daniel Kickert (16) and Jae’Sean Tate (16), who bullied his way inside for close-range buckets and rebounds in traffic.
Andrew Bogut played just 13 minutes but finished with eight points and four rebounds.
For the 36ers, Randle finished with 16 points, while Daniel Johnson scored a game-high 26. The 36ers were left to rue a disappointing performance in which their energy levels wavered. At one stage in the third quarter, they trimmed the margin to 63-55, but they were not able to sustain that run.
“If we came out with that energy from the get-go, then that game would have been totally different,” said Randle.
Power forward Tate said Sydney still had room to improve.
“Definitely. We’re still not to where we need to be to be a championship team, but I think we got better from last week to this week,” he said. “And we’re going to continue to make that a focus especially because, compared to some other teams, we’re smaller.”
Casper Ware splits the 36ers’ defence on a drive to the basket. Picture: Getty