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Blake overcomes nervous start in NBL debut

AAP logoAAP 30/10/2016 Matt Encarnacion

NBA veteran Steve Blake overcame a nervous start to claim a win in his NBL debut on Sunday, helping the Sydney Kings to a hard-fought 87-78 victory over Brisbane.

A crowd of 6,519 at Qudos Bank arena welcomed the ex-Los Angeles Lakers point guard, who was rushed into starting line-up after captain Kevin Lisch pulled out pre-game with a leg injury.

Blake shook off a rusty beginning to show why he spent 13 seasons in the NBA, finishing with 12 points from 4 of 11 shooting to go with four assists and four rebounds.

He played in all but four minutes of the game, hitting a clutch three-point bomb in the fourth quarter and showing a jolt of emotion on a key defensive stop on the next play.

"I can't lie, I was a little bit nervous going out there," Blake said post-game.

"New place, new opponents, guys I've never played against before, playing with new guys, and sometimes you can over-think things.

"Eventually it just started to just be a reaction and that's how we need to play and for myself, to get comfortable out there, I think it'll just get better and better as we go."

But while most of the spotlight was on the NBA stalwart, it was Brad Newley who stole the show with arguably his best outing in Kings colours.

The former Boomer scored a game-high 29 points, including 17 in the first half that negated a strong shooting night from Bullets guard Torrey Craig.

"I think he got a little something in him when he takes on an Andrej Lemanis (Boomers coach) team, missing out on Rio. Newls was superb," coach Andrew Gaze said.

Craig paced Brisbane with 22 points and 14 boards but received little help from his teammates, save for Cameron Bairstow's 13 off the bench.

The victory extends the Kings' winning streak to five - the first time they've put together that many victories since 2008 - and consolidates their spot atop the table.

The Bullets have now lost three of their past four.

Brisbane jumped out of the blocks hot with four unanswered layups to force Gaze to burn a timeout barely two minutes into the game.

But any early nerves were gone upon resumption as the Kings went on a 13-3 run, with Newley going toe-to-toe with Craig in a ding-dong offensive battle.

Craig fired off a 13-point first half but Newley's intent, together with the Kings' signature swarming defence, propelled his team to a seven-point lead at the break.

After sinking just one of his first six shots in the first half, Blake got going early in the second, and their advantage hit 12 points on a Jason Cadee three.

The visitors refused to buckle and cut the deficit to two midway through the fourth but the Kings held on to exact revenge from their only loss of the season to the Bullets in round one.

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